Steve Dawe, a former lecturer in Environmental Policy and a current lecturer in Public Policy, has been researching the likely effects of a Peak in global oil supplies on Kent and Medway. New evidence from the UK Energy Research Council has concluded global oil supplies will probably peak before 2020(1). Steve Dawe comments:
“Only the current recession has prevented oil prices from continuing to reflect global scarcity of oil. Due to lack of Government preparation, despite the available evidence from bodies like the UK Energy Research Council, we face the prospect of rising oil prices with a huge impact on transport of all kinds. What does this mean for Kent and Medway?
“Increased rail fares: The UK already has the highest rail fares in the world and under-investment may push them higher as will rising oil prices. We need to invest in full electrification of the railways over the shortest feasible period.
“Increased bus fares: We need to replace existing buses with electric buses or other non-fossil fuel technologies, to keep bus fares down.
“Increases in walking and cycling: Research suggests every extra 10% on fuel costs cuts car use by 7%, so investment in improving walking and cycling routes will help people to adjust to an oil scarce future.
“Increases in the price of non-local foodstuffs: Food prices have already risen dramatically in recent years. When the cost of transporting food becomes more significant, supporting local farmers’ markets and farm shops will become more attractive and the numbers of such facilities will tend to grow.
“Increases in demand for local services and facilities: As the cost of transport rises, the demand for more services nearer to where people live will grow – including a key demand of more local post offices.
“Decline in air-based tourist travel in favour of rail and domestic tourism: Flying will become more expensive with no technological substitute for current aviation fuel expected for decades. This will lead to more tourism in Kent and a decline in airport use.
“Slow take up of electric vehicles: New electric vehicles will appear on our streets, but will be expensive to run until a significant increase in renewably-generated electricity takes place. This will cut current appalling levels of air pollution and contributions to greenhouse gases.”
FURTHER INFORMATION: Steve Dawe, Press Officer, KENT GREEN PARTY on 01732 355185 or 07747 036192. Please leave a message if necessary. Contact address as above. Notes:
1. Summaries of studies of Peak Oil include: http://www.tsl.uu.se/uhdsg/Publications/PeakOilAge.pdf & a report to the Bush presidency: http://www.mnforsustain.org/oil_peaking_of_world_oil_production_study_hirsch.htm
and a report just issued by the UK Energy Research Council: http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php These summaries conclude a high probability of Peak Oil before 2020.
2. Oil prices peaked at $147 a barrel before the recession and have crept back up to about $80 a barrel now. Demand projections for India and China suggest that we would need to find 5 Saudi Arabias in the next decade just to meet likely demand for oil, which is extremely unlikely according to research and declining oil discovery in recent decades.