Monday, 23 August 2010

UK government alarmed about peak oil, but doesn't know what to do

Well, that's the way it looks to me, after reading a story brought to my attention by James from PowerSwitch:

Speculation that government ministers are far more concerned about a future supply crunch than they have admitted has been fuelled by the revelation that they are canvassing views from industry and the scientific community about "peak oil".

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is also refusing to hand over policy documents about "peak oil" – the point at which oil production reaches its maximum and then declines – under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, despite releasing others in which it admits "secrecy around the topic is probably not good".

Experts say they have received a letter from David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the DECC, asking for information and advice on peak oil amid a growing campaign from industrialists such as Sir Richard Branson for the government to put contingency plans in place to deal with any future crisis.
The article, from The Guardian, goes on to remind us that the IEA, which the government regards as the ultimate authority in energy supplies, is itself split over peak oil, with insiders saying that the official projections of oil supply will be impossible to achieve.

But in response to Freedom of Information requests, the government is saying that the need for ministers to have private discussions on sensitive issues is more important than telling us what the government knows, and what it plans to do about it.

My suspicion is that the government has no idea what to do. The impact of peak oil and the measures that will be required to deal with it will immediately lose any government an election, or perhaps even a vote of confidence. Quite how we'll get out of this situation I don't know. The only thing that's certain is that the clock is ticking, and if nothing is done then the scenarios in Alex Scarrow's novels become ever more likely....


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