Renewables going up is not translating into oil and gas going down
Climate crisis plus energy crisis does not equal a good path to net-zero emissions. Policy wonks at the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow later this month will have a tough time with this calculus.
It’s been a while since the phrase energy crisis has been thrown around. When I hear it, I have déjà vu to the 1970s, the late-2000s and other lesser episodes in between. I reflect on societal hardship, ugly politics and uncertain outcomes.
Today, a panoply of numbers is pointing to a looming energy deficit that may rival big ones of the past. Volatile commodity markets agree: The price of oil, now over US$80 per barrel, has doubled in the past year. Natural gas in some markets has shot up five-fold. Coal, the fuel with more lives than a black cat, is setting record high prices.
The contagion of energy price inflation is happening from Germany to Brazil to China, and it’s on its way to a gas pump, furnace and wall plug near you. We are witnessing the perils of a disorderly transition, the consequence of mismanaged efforts at decarbonizing the world’s energy systems.