The ‘carbon bubble’: The last, best corporate excuse for failing to save the planet

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It was always going to come down to this. Use it or lose it. Fix it or screw it. Live or die. 

It all costs money, doesn’t it. To fix to. To unscrew it. To find a way for the rest of us to remain living on the planet. 

And the people making money, for decades, from public natural resources, want to continue making money from public natural resources, no matter the cost. To us. 

In a real democracy, in a real world not fixated by the adolescent lure of ever-increasing profits, the corporations who screwed up the planet would be called upon to fix it.

Yes, it would cost them trillions of dollars, and yes they would ‘lose’ that much in ‘lost assets,’ but wouldn’t that be the price normal ‘people’ would be willing to pay for decades of shovelling trillions of dollars into the bank accounts of shareholders and politicians?

Seriously. How much more do they need? They have their luxury homes. Sure, they will have to sell their beachfront properties soon, but they can still turn a profit.

Their kids are guaranteed an education in the finest universities.

They have their Picassos to keep them company and their 1000-thread-sheets to keep them cool and warm.

They have their electric cars and week-long vacations in Bali and the best immigrant nannies money can buy.

What more do they need?

So really, when we come down to it, when the Trumpist dust has settled, when the obtuse absurd fake reality headlines fade to black, what is left is the simple truth: This is the only issue we should be talking about.

Unless we are content to let the US or Israel or anyone else bomb the planet to smithereens, we have to stop screwing around the start saving the planet.

To do anything else is to admit that we have been conned by the richest corporations in the world.

To do anything else is to say we -and the planet- are not worthy of being saved.

Because they have told us we are not worth saving. Would we accept that treatment from anyone else? 

Is that really the way we want to be remembered? Is that really going to be the Human Legacy? Trumped by Trump and Exxon and Apple and Lockheed Martin and Wall Street and all the rest?

And again, we know how this will play out. We will continue to moan about everything except the right to life on a liveable planet, waiting for CNN or The New York Times to tell us it is finally time get up off our big fat fucking asses and actually do something for a change. 

Fat chance. Not until hell warms over. 

James Porteous

05 June 2018 | Irina Slav | Oil Price

“We are living in a carbon bubble with trillions of dollars held in oil, gas, and coal assets that would be wiped out before long as technological advancements in all sorts of industries quickly undermine fossil fuel demand.

This is the gist of a recent study led by the University of Cambridge, which involved macroeconomic simulations, with the researchers concluding we are on the brink of a much worse financial crisis than the one from 2008 as between 1 and 3 trillion worth of fossil fuel investments turn into stranded assets. For context, the authors note that the 2008 crisis was sparked by losses to the tune of US$250 billion.

The fast pace of technological progress in renewable energy and elsewhere that is producing higher levels of energy efficiency is the driver of the crisis. To avoid it, the study authors say, the world needs to deflate the bubble carefully before it bursts. Otherwise we might see a global crisis compared to which the Great Recession was a picnic.

The researchers ran repeated simulations with different scenarios as researchers tend to do in such studies and concluded that the worst case would be continued fossil fuel production in the context of falling demand, which is actually a conclusion one doesn’t need macroeconomic simulations to make.

“If OPEC nations maintain production levels as prices drop, they will crowd out the market,” says one of the authors, Hector Pollitt from Cambridge Econometrics and EENRG. “OPEC nations will be the only ones able to produce fossil fuels at the low costs required, and exporters such as the US and Canada will be unable to compete.”

What is the carbon bubble and what will happen if it bursts?

As the world moves towards a low-carbon economy, fossil fuel investments worth trillions of dollars, from oil wells to cars, will lose their value

What is the carbon bubble?

Investments amounting to trillions of dollars in fossil fuels – coal mines, oil wells, power stations, conventional vehicles – will lose their value when the world moves decisively to a low-carbon economy. Fossil fuel reserves and production facilities will become stranded assets, having absorbed capital but unable to be used to make a profit. This carbon bubble has been estimated at between $1tn and $4tn (£3tn), a large chunk of the global economy’s balance sheet.

But this will be just the start. As demand declines, by 2035 oil—and other fossil fuels—will sell so cheap that even large, low-cost producers will not be able to enjoy their revenues. Social and political tumult could ensue as jobs are lost and disgruntlement grows. Ironically, the push for more and stricter climate change policies will only aggravate the situation, unless it is accompanied by parallel action in fossil fuels, namely, winding down investments in their production.

This sounds decidedly questionable when you compare it with warnings from, say, OPEC’s secretary-general Mohammed Barkindo that oil prices could soar unless more money is spent on new production, but the researchers are not the only ones sounding the energy efficiency alarm.

A recent report from Norwegian quality assurance and risk management provider DNV.GL has forecast that global energy demand could plateau by 2050 thanks to energy efficiency improvements. The firm goes as far as to say that the world economy’s energy intensity will decline faster than the economy grows over the next 30 years.

The gains in energy efficiency, DNV.GL says, will in fact contribute a lot more to the energy transition that the world is undergoing than solar, wind, and electric vehicles taken together. At an average energy efficiency improvement rate of 2.5 percent annually until 2050, it is the single most important factor that could bring the world closer to meeting the Paris Agreement targets.

Energy efficiency and the technologies behind it don’t get as much headlines as solar, wind, or especially EVs. But it may turn out that it is, as the Norwegian firm calls it, the unsung hero of the energy transition.

Original Link:  New Technology Could Wipe Out Trillions In Fossil Fuel Investment

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