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Thursday, June 16, 2011

UK Ignores Peak Oil Warnings - NZ Pretends It's Not An Issue

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It has long been suspected that Western governments have been investigating peak oil and its impacts on the economy, but keeping the information hidden from the public. In the case of the UK government we now have definitive proof that this has been happening. The Guardian has reported (15 June) that UK ministers have ignored peak oil warnings.

The UK government commissioned a report five years ago in 2007 -- "Report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production" (PowerPoint). The report was finished in June 2009 but has only been made public in the last week, and only after protracted official information appeals due to the UK government trying to keep the report secret.

The first part of the report written in 2007 begins with a generally dismissive approach to peak oil, but the updated sections written in 2009 contain many stark warnings should peak oil happened before 2015.
"if peak oil happened before 2015, this would have significant negative economic consequences for some of the main importers of UK goods and services resulting in a negative impact on the UK economy in the longer term."

A report also examined the direct and indirect impact on the UK economy -- as you can see from the extract below the impacts are many and profound.

Click to enlarge

And the report has a bleak outlook for those cornucopians who suggest that there will be a smooth transition to alternatives –

“In the event of peak oil, the ability to substitute away from oil consumption will be crucial to the economy’s resilience. However, few viable alternative energy sources exist for road and air transport and demand remains fairly unresponsive to rising prices.” and

“Alternative fuels are available, however few are yet commercially viable and there are still concerns around sustainability and wider deployment. Mass deployment of alternative fuels will take time and it will take time before it will have a significant impact upon fossil fuel consumption in the transport sector. Government may have a role to play in increasing the speed with which these alternatives are brought to market.”
To its credit, the UK government has recently had a major rethink and has agreed to engage with, and consult peak oil experts. It has also released other papers on peak oil on its Department of Energy and Climate change website.

It seems the UK government has finally seen the elephant in the room.  

Meanwhile the response from the New Zealand government is to continue to pretend that peak oil is not a problem. Either no NZ reports on peak oil have been obtained, or if they have they have been kept secret.  There is certainly no engagement with peak oil experts or the public here.

This in spite of the fact that New Zealand has a much higher net oil import dependency than the UK, (UK close to zero - NZ 70%) and New Zealand is one of the most oil intensive nations in the OECD, while UK is one of the least intensive.


Anonymous said...

I am interested in how and when people, including government officials, will stop protecting the status quo and start to make the psychological shift to acknowledge peak oil and its implications. What do you think of comments made in Peak Oil & Evolpsyc- in this regard?
“…The shock that is going to occur in my opinion is going to be a psychological shock. (Peak Oil) really isn’t yet in the public consciousness… people will all of a sudden wake up to the reality of this, and begin to think about what it means.” Dr Robert L. Hirsch.
For now, people appear to be stuck in the ‘Gone with the Wind’ phase.
“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Scarlett O’Hara.
Keep the information flow going it is important way too push the balance. Blog on!!

Ted Howard said...

Hi Dennis
There have been 2 studies here in NZ
In 2005 this one was done for the MED:
Then recently in October last year:

But both have been effectively shelved, hardly discussed, and almost no media coverage....

In reality there's been a bunch of us sine the late 1990's trying to raise awareness, getting MP's and govt to move on Peak Oil. Robert Atack has archived a lot of it at

I recently listened to this podcast where Peter Gelderloos is stating that TPTB know what's about to happen but won't talk about it:
The Authority Smashing! Hour
Peter Gelderloos on Climate Change


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