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Thursday, May 26, 2011

UK Government to Develop Oil Shock Response Plan - When Will NZ ?

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UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has agreed to develop an 'Oil Shock Response Plan', following a meeting with the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

Specifically, Huhne agreed that the UK government and ITPOES would work together on peak oil threat assessment and contingency planning.

Members of the taskforce said they would also explore steps that would need to be taken now to protect the UK economy from rapidly rising oil prices and possible oil shortages.

Huhne also called on ITPOES to present their concerns to the UK Chancellor and Treasury - a meeting that the group is now seeking.

ITPOES has published 2 authoritative reports on Peak Oil. The latest  in 2010 contained a stark warning that the economic impact of the next Oil Crunch will be as bad as, if not worse that the Global Financial Crisis.

As one cynic observed – “Britons can breathe a great sigh of relief. The government is planning to work on a plan to consider contingencies” But it’s a start – a senior UK Cabinet Minister is willingly to talk openly about peak oil, and to seek advice from peak oil experts in the private sector and academia, who only a few years ago were pilloried as doomsayers and fruit loops !

A pleasant and surprising contrast with New Zealand, where ignorance, or at best denial and obfuscation still characterise the attitude of the PM, Ministers and officials.

Here is a fantasy to conjure with…. Gerry Brownlee (or Hekia Parata the new Minister of Energy) and Steven Joyce The Minister of Transport meet with New Zealand peak oil experts in the Beehive, agree to develop an oil shock response plan and invite further discussion with Finance Minister Bill English and Treasury !

But hang on why should this be a fantasy? …This is election year folks. We need to demand from all political parties that they publically acknowledge the threat of peak oil and spell out their contingency plans and policies. A Conservative government in the UK has begun that process, and so must our politicians.


Susan Krumdieck said...

At the end of April I was flown to Europe to give a presentation to a regional parliament in Belgium, and to participate in the ASPO9 conference. When they asked me to come, it was after they found the Dunedin Peak Oil Vulnerability report on the web, and one of my journal papers on a method to assess risk to essential activities as a function of urban form. They wanted to know how our government in New Zealand is so enlightened that it is using these new things. I went there and gave a presentation on my research and how it has been applied so far. You can watch the presentation here if interested.
The reception was really good. But I made the point that there aren't really any national governments who will do anything useful in this regard, other than perhaps establish a fund for local governments to use to carry out their adaptation analysis and seed money for the low-energy development projects to get started.
I actually think we are totally wasting our time even thinking about the national government. They will follow later.
That said, early last year, I was invited to a small lunch meeting (4 people) with the CEO of MOT. I gave them copies of my journal paper and gave the most straight-forward and business-orientated way I could to explain that there is one more issue to analyse, along with interest rates and exchange rates and wages and inflation... and it requires forward planning in order to balance budgets - every year from here on out, you need to plan and act to use less oil than the year before. Some of them really tried to put me in the box of being some nutter peak oiler doomesdayer. But I countered, do you discount the risks and not manage interest rate situations because you don't like them? No - you gather as much good information as you can and you put your people onto it. At the end of the day, I think I had made a dent in the CEO's thinking, but the final point he made is that it's not what the minister thinks, and so, thank you very much, but we can't talk about that.
Localisation is about everything, not just food. It's time to localise our democracy as well.
Sorry for the long comment!
Susan Krumdieck

Denis Tegg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denis Tegg said...

thanks for your comment - long is good.

have seen your presentation - you have a very engaging and persuasive manner - we should get you up to talk to the community and Council up here on the Coromandel?

Interesting account of your meeting with Transport CEO.

I agree localisation must be the focus, but don't think its a case of either/or. We have to takle this on all fronts. Votes for women, nuclear free, springbok tour and more recently mining in National parks are all issues where community activism reversed very entrenched government positions. And with the oil crisis/decline likely to have even more profound impacts I reckon we eventually can force a change.

Our best chance is this election as the impacts will hit during the term of the next government. If enough of us keep raising the issues and challenging ALL parties, the more likely it is that the media will start asking some tough questions. At the very least they will not then be able to say they were not warned?

Kevthefarmer said...

Government is definitely part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and central government is the most problematic of all. This is largely due to the fact that national government executives, as "international players" identify more with trans-national corporate executives than do local government executives, a phenomenon known as "status grouping". These TNC execs are far more likely to promote the ideology of business as usual as they really don't have a strategy for dealing with the inevitability of re-localisation as an outcome of resource depletion except to "extend and pretend" whilst they try and revise their business model into rent-seeking through resource capture. this is what "bale-outs" and "state asset sell-offs" and the TPPA are all about.
Local government are likely to be somewhat more receptive as they are closer to "real people". However, one feels that their main consideration is how to maintain the rates-take and insulate themselves from recession, and they risk making themselves very unpopular in doing so. This is because the executive has a vety firm "upper hand" over the elected representatives at the moment.
I feel that local government is geographically too big in NZ, and that central government likes it that way, as it prefers politicians to be more distant from ordinary people, hence the "super-city". I feel it is time to go back to more localised bodies, such as the counties that existed prior to 1983, and even to have a smaller level, such as civil parishes, or if you prefer, communes (in the French administrative sense, rather than the hippy or communist sense). Power could then be devolved to the lowest practical level.
On another note, here in rural Tasman, every weekday at every road junction there are cars parked by people who are organising with their colleagues to carpool to Nelson. Soon there will be inadequate parking. What will the official response be; provision of formal parking at road junctions, or police issuing tickets for dangerous parking? Regards, Kevin Mayes.

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