The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s annual World Energy Outlook, due for publication on 9 November, will contain alarming research that the world is on track for a catastrophic rise in global temperatures unless fossil fuel subsidies are cut, energy efficiency is improved, and more countries introduce some form of carbon pricing.
You’ve said in the past that you believe that the world has already passed its ‘peak oil’ moment – the point at which the amount of oil already used outweighs the amount left in the ground. How far past that moment do you think we are, and what are the economic and environmental consequences?
We have said that we have seen the peak of commercial oil. There is still uncommercial oil and other forms coming and we will definitely need oil for our mobility systems for cars, trucks and jets and for our economic daily life to continue. However, one day we will run out of oil - not tomorrow or the day after but one day we will. Given its strategic importance for our societies, it is important to prepare our societies for that very day and try to find alternatives to oil especially in transportation systems. These could be electric cars, hybrid cars, natural gas, or biofuels-driven cars, or putting more emphasis on mass transportation.
When we talk about CO2 emissions, people think directly about coal. But if you look at the numbers, the contribution of oil to global CO2 emissions is only a few percentage points lower than coal. Therefore it needs to be taken closely into consideration. We’re not running out of oil today or tomorrow but we need to prepare ourselves for the day that we do. We have to leave oil before it leaves us.