OPEC pretends Paris didn't happen; predicts oil will dominate in 2040

Saudi Arabia oil field
CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr

You should always consider the biases of those who are reading the tea leaves.

When I get excited about a report claiming electric vehicle growth will happen at breakneck speed, I expect folks to remember that I write for a website called "TreeHugger", and that I have celebrated Shell's retreat from the Arctic.

In other words, I am not an impartial observer.

The same goes for OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). So when they release a report which, as Green Car Reports has explained, predicts that 94 percent of cars will still be fossil fuel powered by 2040 and oil will remain dominant, we should take those predictions with more than just a small pinch of salt.

After all, most of Britain's cities just pledged to achieve 100 percent renewable energy (not just electricity) by 2050—just ten years after OPEC predicts we'll still be mostly reliant on oil. Toyota—the largest automaker in the world—has just pledged to achieve 90 percent CO2 cuts from its cars by that very same date. Sweden is aiming to go fossil fuel free. Unilever is aiming to be "carbon positive" by 2030. Major cities are aiming to make car ownership pointless. And a director of Harley Davidson is calling for net zero emissions by 2050.

Oh, and world leaders from almost every nation on Earth (including OPEC countries) just came to an unprecedented agreement to cut emissions which, even if only implemented to its current lackluster level of ambition, will undoubtedly send a message to the markets that fossil fuels will eventually die out.

All this is to say that the OPEC prediction is not simply a case of biases leading to slightly different perspectives. Instead, it's either one of two things:

1) A blatant case of willful denial
2) An open admission that OPEC believes the Paris agreement to be for show only

Of course, one other possibility does exist I suppose—and that's that 94 percent of cars will indeed still be fossil fuel powered by 2040. We'll just have very few of them. (I can't think of anything that would make Lloyd happier.) Oh, but wait. The report also claims that the global fleet will consume 17 percent more oil than it does now.

That just has to be poppycock. Or a warning sign that we're in for very serious trouble.

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Car-Free | Oil | Transportation

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