Bob Dudley, chief executive of an oil company with more than C$350 billion in assets, knows something about energy that a few Canadian politicians don’t. In his company’s Energy Outlook for 2018, Dudley wrote:
…a continuation of the recent progress and momentum in policies and technologies is likely to cause the growth in carbon emissions to slow markedly relative to the past. But this slowing falls well short of the sharp drop in carbon emissions thought necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals. We need a far more decisive break from the past.
…We need a comprehensive approach encouraging both improvements in how efficiently we use energy as well as the continuing shift to a lower carbon fuel mix.
In an interview with EURACTIV, BP’s chief economist Spencer Dale acknowledged the company had underestimated the speed of the transition to renewables:
“A lot of the explanation is solar,” Dale pointed out, explaining that the impressive growth in solar PV worldwide followed a typical “learning curve” where the costs come down roughly by 25% every time solar capacity doubles.
“We haven’t been surprised by the steepness of that curve,” Dale pointed out, but rather by “how far along the curve” the world has got…
The pattern is a familiar one. For years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and oil majors such as BP and ExxonMobil have consistently tended to underestimate renewables growth in their annual energy outlooks.
“Every year BP has predicted a sudden slowdown in renewable energy growth, and every year it has been wrong,” said Greg Muttitt from Oil Change International, a green NGO, when BP published its 2017 energy outlook.
The most accurate renewable energy growth forecasts have tended to come from Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs, critics point out. And even those have appeared mildly conservative in retrospect.
…In Brussels, the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, recently admitted it was taken by surprise by the rapid fall in renewables costs and recently updated its own projections based on new evidence…
“This is not a race for renewables, this is a race to reduce carbon emissions. And there are many ways” to do that, [Dale] pointed out, citing the “massive success story” of energy efficiency improvements in Europe.
In Ottawa, Justin Trudeau’s Government threatens British Columbians with military action to ensure pipeline capacity is there to serve expansion of tarsands production that according to Oil-Climate Index generates “2.2 times as many emissions per barrel than the average crude extracted in North America.”
In Edmonton, Premier Rachel Notley declares Alberta will buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline project if that’s what it takes to get it built. Since 2015, the Kinder Morgan project budget increased 37% to the current $7.4 billion. Regardless of the final price tag, certain Notley, Trudeau and other Canadian politicians insist the pipeline is crucial so that more dirty Canadian oil can be extracted and burned. They spit into the wind.
Meanwhile, John Horgan’s BC Government ditched its commendable PowerBC program and attached itself to destructive dam technology of the last century. Three years ago, the inept energy minister of the day averred BC Hydro would build Site C for $8 billion. He said the budget was reliable because it had been fully reviewed by international specialists and contained generous contingencies.
The budget is now $11 billion but since BC Hydro is hiding almost all financial details from scrutiny, we can assume it will continue growing. To justify the project, BC politicians closed eyes to renewable energy trends obvious to the rest of the world. By ignoring cheaper, less harmful solutions, Horgan’s Government spit into the wind.
H/T to Erik Andersen for drawing attention to BP statements.