Gustav remains a Tropical Storm for now, but forecasters predict it will regain hurricane strength by the end of today and pass over western Cuba into the Gulf Sunday morning. Current projections have it hitting Gulf oil and gas production sites on Monday as a major hurricane. Virtually all oil and gas production was shut-in during Hurricane Katrina, with some fields being closed for a number of months. The impact of Gustav will depend on how its intensity and size develops over the next three days.
On the issue of energy and climate change, a a Reuters article today claims the current increase in energy prices and slowing economic growth is hurting climate progress. They say that energy security has risen higher than climate as a policy priority, which could move nations toward coal. While I think some climate initiatives can suffer due to these circumstances, higher fuel prices are moving people toward climate responsibility without policy.
The higher gas price is moving consumers away from big SUVs and trucks faster than CAFE standards could have imagined. It is bringing in new revenue for mass transit from higher ridership when politicians often lack the political will to properly support Amtrak and other rail and bus systems. The oil price increase is equivalent to a $150 per ton of carbon dioxide tax, without scared politicians having to make a move. In fact, climate solutions of energy efficiency and renewables deployment are becoming an economic necessity rather than just a privilege for the well-off.
If the coal price hadn’t tripled over the last two years, I would have agreed with the article. But the rise in coal prices has shown that all fossil fuels are vulnerable to supply constraints. And the best solution to achieve each goal of energy security, economic prosperity and climate mitigation happens to be the same: energy efficiency and renewables deployment.