Could fossil fuels be pushed out of electricity generation by 2035 simply by market forces?

A report from Carbon Tracker (a London based non-profit) points out that Solar and wind have the potential of creating thousands of Petawatt hours of electricity a year, while current electricity demands stand at just 27PWh.

More crazy still is the space that it would take to get all our electricity from Solar. It would take 450,000 square km, which sounds like an insane amount of land. However, this is just 0.3% of land and significantly less than the land currently given over to the Fossil fuel industry. Given that much of our energy needs will come from wind, this is likely to be significantly lower. Another analysis suggests just 0.2% of land for solar, with 0.5% covered in wind turbines.

End of Oil Age? might we as a society end the need for oil within the next few decades? Photo credit Alexey
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OPEC the worlds biggest oil producers have decided to cut their oil output roughly in half – what is the result

The world is gradually transforming from a fossil fuel based energy system to a renewable system. We all know (I hope at least the readers here) that we need to stop using oil and gas.

Unfortunately at the moment, much of the system in the west is reliant on these resources. As a result, a move like this does hit us hard. Higher prices are going to hit us. This is going to happen because OPEC, a group of countries which have agreed to set quantities of output together. Including a variety of countries, from the middle eastern countries to places all over Africa.

Perhaps one of the good things that might come out of this, is the fact that it will be a slap in the face for much of the fossil fuel using countries. We need to see a point in investing in net zero industries that can cut our emissions until we reach zero. The aim is to cut oil available by 2 million barrels per day.

In the long run, obviously, OPEC does not want the world to move away from fossil fuels, as they will then have to find another source of revenue, but it is going to happen in the next few years either way.

Many oil companies have better lower esg (environmental social and governance) ratings than Tesla how is this possible

There is a scheme which gives companies ratings based on their environmental, social and governance positions in order to allow investors to know that they are investing in companies that are thinking about the future.

This is good! Of course we should know.

However, this has (intentionally or not) been set up to fail on its own. It seems that the rating does not look at whether a company emits small amounts of carbon, or makes low carbon products but on the Dollar value of the risk/return.

Tesla’s ESG score is 28.5, giving it a ranking of 41 out of 85 USA car companies or 8,192 out of 14,666 in the world.

The companies below are all oil companies with lower esg scores are as follows:

Royal Dutch Shell ESG Score: 35.1 with a high exposure risk and strong management rating.

TotalEnergies SE ESG Score: 29.2 with a medium exposure risk and strong management.

Repsol SA ESG Score: 26.7 with a medium risk and strong management.

Equinor ASA ESG Score: 32.0 with a high risk and strong management.

It is entirely possible that the esg score is being misused by companies like this, however what is clear is it is misleading consumers and so must be changed (as whatever the current aim, this score was set up to inform not to mislead).

A quote from Bloomberg business on this scheme stated “the most striking feature of the esg rating system is how rarely a company’s record on climate change seems to get in the way of it climbing up the esg ladder or even to factor at all”.

It looks like Oil companies are looking at the future beyond oil. They are definitely not all in

While there are still many right-wing networks that deny the truth to global warming – or increasingly admit the world is warming but suggest that humans have nothing to do with this (a hard thing to argue as the only thing that has changed is us and our carbon emissions- and the change is happening faster than anything we can find in the last few million years), fossil fuel companies do not seem to be making the Investments necessary to move their business in the timescale available.

Proportion of oil capitol investment in non- fossil fuel sources. This is over 2010-2018
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Leading fracking company taken over by green energy group

Fracking is a problem. In many parts of the world (including in the UK) it only emerged as a means of getting oil out of the ground, after we should have stopped doing this.

It is known that most of the known reserves of oil and gas must be left in the ground. it is therefore insane to start a whole new industry extracting oil and gas in new ways.

There was a lot of people saying that if we need oil and gas, why not find it under Britain, but this fails to recognize that oil and gas use is falling fast and needs to fall faster.

If you look at graphs of petrol and diesel over the last few decades, the combination has remained pretty steady. Let demand is expected to fall off a cliff over the next decade.

This is as a result of dual threats, which could undermine most of the market for these damaging fossil fuels.

Firstly, each petrol or diesel car consumes on average about 2.3 tonnes of fuel. This means that each electric car sold reduces demand by 2.3 tonnes per year. Currently only 11% of cars in the UK are electric, but as the government has stated that new fossil fuel car sales will be banned in 2030, this should rise quickly. When surveyed, most drivers say they hope their next car will be electric. If new car sales are banned at this point, it will take a while for all fossil fuel cars to disappear from the roads.

However, there is likely to be an unpleasant feedback loop, where the more electric cars there are on the road, the fewer people want to buy.

In a similar way, fossil fuel free heating methods will replace gas boilers

As the number of consumers of a product reduces the savings from working in large quantities will be lost. This will push up prices for the remaining holdouts -which in turn will push more people to adopt electric alternatives.

By having a green energy company take over a fracking company, these changes are likely to happen as fast as possible. The new owners are not interested in holding on to fracking as long as possible – to the contrary, they will end its use as soon as possible.

This can only be good news in the world

Shell has started to use seismic tests around South Africa looking for Oil

Despite a desperate attempt to halt this exploration, Shell has started seismic exploration of the ocean floor off the coast of South Africa. Why does this matter? Currently, this sea is an incredibly biodiverse and healthy ecosystem.

Importantly, these seas are home to a slowly recovering population of Southern right whales, Seismic tests require incredibly loud sounds which can damage whales hearing.

Although you only normally see a small part of these huge whales, occasionally they will breach, showing their size

Southern right whales are found throughout the southern hemisphere with populations migrating to South Africa, Argentina and Australia.

Current estimates range from 7000-13000. It is difficult to estimate historical numbers, but it is thought that the Southern right whale would have numbered between 55,000 and 70,000 at a minimum. It is true that the southern right whale is in a far better state than the Northern right whale, (pre whaling it is thought the northern right whale had a population between 9000, and 21,000, with no more than 400 remaining today) however this does not say much. New Zealand is thought to have landed around 40,000 southern right whales during the whaling period.

All of that is to say, that the whale population of south Africa has had a hard fought recovery over the last few years, and is thought to be able to reach pre-whaling numbers by 2100.

If this new threat is allowed to proceed, the recovery of the whale is likely to be in doubt.

Chevron and Exxon both spent years supressing battery cars should they get away with that?

It has been recognised in many circles but fossil fuels have been a problem for a very long time. Generally the argument has gone, there is nothing that can replace them.

What should we do about companies who were pushing the idea that was nothing to replace fossil fuels, while at the same time working to stop electric cars ever coming to market?

Some people might argue that in a free market society, you can do nothing. That has to be wrong. Exxon bought the lithium ion battery patent back in 1966, and then completely suppressed it -this is why the Sony Walkman only arrived in 1991, precisely 25 years after the patent was given when it expired. Chevron Texaco did something similar in 1999, when they bought the right to certain battery chemistry, and a particular type of battery plug in the hope of stopping that technology ever coming to market in the form of a battery for a car.

Car and fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to get away with this. Indeed it has to be illegal.

Indeed if it isn’t, the free market system must change otherwise these companies will have the ability to make the fight against climate change that much harder.

There needs to be a way to inflict significant damage on a company which intentionally fights against the long-term human interests in order to maximize short term profits. Perhaps the only way to handle this is to fine the share holders? If the share holders know that they are going to be financially liable for any bad behaviour, this will force the value of the company down when ever they misbehave.

More than 126000 gallons of oil have leaked near Huntington beach California

Oil spills are an unfortunate fact of life for as long as we continue to move oil around the planet.

126000 gallons, alarmingly, is a relatively small spill, compared to most oil spills.

Nevertheless this oil still has the capability of killing many thousands of birds along with sea otters and other marine mammals.

Pictures show floating beams, which are used to stop the oil from getting around, and indeed a lot of oil does float on the surface. Unfortunately by no means all and as such much of the oil that leads into the sea will remain and continue to cause damage for decades into the future

Oil fields of Botswana and Namibia threaten 130,000 elephants

While currently only exploratory, oil projects in the ecosystems of Namibia and Botswana potentially threaten the survival of 130,000 elephants – one of Africa’s last great wildernesses.

The Okavango delta from space. This exploration could destroy one of Africa’s last great wildernesses

The company ReconAfrica is going ahead with its search despite the threats. At the current time, there are roughly 450,000 elephants in Africa, but that is down from millions just a few short decades ago.

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