June 25th, 2008 by Scott Ogier
Well I am glad to finally get to the Energy Policy. Much has been said already, I would, however, like to make a few salient points.
It is fair to say the members of the group did not all start out of the same mind. As documents were read, presentations viewed and events attended we drew closer together in our deeper understanding of the issues facing us and the steps required. This report is the result of a two year journey for Deputy Flouquet, Deputy Parkinson, Deputy Guille, Deputy O’Hara and myself. It could not have been better supported by the staff and I thank them for that and all the hard work they put in to creating this document.
We may not all have been of the same mind when we started but by the time we had finished we had unified behind many of the guiding principles of this report.
This document and dozens like it currently being implemented across the developed and developing nations are crucial in the fight to adapt our societies to the pressures we find ourselves under.
I note the aspirational targets to reduce our CO2 emissions by 30% on 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050 and I welcome them.
These are targets that those eminent peer-reviewed scientists I was talking about were recommending and the ones that industrial nations are increasingly adopting.
The work streams are a road map to achieving those targets and we will need to monitor the results of our labours on an ongoing basis and to adjust as necessary.
I welcome the work streams. I think it is fair to say I would have liked to see more action come out of this Policy instead of a great deal of investigation, but we do not all move at the same pace. I only hope these investigative work streams are completed expeditiously and the business of making a change is begun.
Not everyone is on board with the idea we need to change the way we approach our energy usage and not everyone is convinced that a problem is looming. To those I say I hope you are right. I would love to think nothing needs to change. OK the ice caps are melting and flowers are budding a month earlier, typhoons are becoming more frequent but nothing is underlying that other than the vast cycles of the earth playing themselves out. Everything is OK and we can look forward to business as usual in a world where we do nothing except eat drink and be merry because climate isn’t changing and oil isn’t going to be a problem. It is a comforting thought and I am sure it would help us all sleep at night.
Lordy you must sleep like babes.
Personally I thought sleeping like a baby was waking every two hours crying and soiling yourself throughout the night but who am I to argue.
Perhaps think of it this way, it’s all about weighing up the risk, the risks of action versus inaction.
If you are right we will merely have become more efficient, leaner and saved energy and resources. If you are wrong and the 3,000 international peer-reviewed scientists of the IPCC are right – your lack of action would be inexcusable.
I take comfort in the knowledge that numbers holding that viewpoint are decreasing as more information and more evidence is made available. Some minds however, will never be changed and I accept that.
Historically, communities which have thrived have been those that discerned patterns in the environment about them and used their powers of deduction to forecast future events. We are able to look into such a future event and take action now to prevent some of its worse effects.
It is difficult to pick out an important workstream, or part of the report, as it is a jigsaw of interlocking pieces – all of them important and all of them weave together in the tapestry of this policy report.
I am particularly pleased with the Energy Hierarchy on page 761 and I am sure it will provide valuable guidance during energy related decisions. My thanks to Jersey for this. Actually I would like to see us work more closely with Jersey on these issues, it makes perfect sense “so to do”.
The work of Green C, the Guernsey Renewable Energy Commission is another vital piece of the jigsaw. In order to take advantage of the opportunity our surrounding tidal currents represent, this organisation needs to bottom out the issues of our sea bed and prepare the legislative framework for inward investment. There is already a constant stream of companies looking at Guernsey and contacting us in order to be in the running for setting up tidal power systems, the sooner we can give the green light the better. At this stage the group is not recommending using the States own funds to invest in technology. Ultimately when or if the technology becomes proven and commercial, areas of the sea bed could become available through a licensing system for power generation. At that stage there would be very little to prevent Guernsey Electricity from making a business case for investment in that arena along with other companies. The group believed that an open approach to investment would allow Guernsey greater access to a wider range of skills and experience in renewable technology whilst simultaneously diversifying the risk associated with macro-renewables.
These are all issues for Green C to investigate, more really cannot be said at this stage.
In particular I would like to flag up one work stream which many of us wished we had more time to investigate over the course of the formulation of this paper and that is the subject of Peak Oil.
It is so important that it stands out on its own resolution separate from the other work streams.
“Direct the Commerce and Employment Department to monitor the issue of “Peak Oil” and report back to the States as necessary.”
I believe it will be very necessary to report back to the States in a very short time frame. I would like to see Commerce and Employment treat this work stream with the utmost urgency.
For years we have taken our cheap and steady supply of energy for granted.
We are enjoying a style of existence which no other civilisation has enjoyed in human history.
There are signs however that this lavish lifestyle may be coming to an end.
Industry observers are now warning that we could reach or could have reached peak production any time from 2005 to 2020, most agreeing on before 2015 as the likely crunch period.
Peak oil is the point where we are no longer increasing the rate at which we are pumping oil out of the ground, i.e. oil production increases as it has always done to meet the ever increasing demand, it reaches the peak of production, i.e. peak oil and then begins the descent at the other side of the curve.
This is due to the oil fields reaching maturity and approaching their half way life. Most countries have already reach peak oil production and are descending down the following slope, the US and the UK for example.
With regard to Global peak, we will only know the peak after is has passed although it is predicted to occur somewhere in the next 10 years if it has not already happened.
Put in simplistic terms, the demand for oil will outstrip its supply, prices will rise, markets become volatile as companies depending on cheap fuel to underpin its actions fail.
Many observers believe this is already starting to happen. They believe economies underpinned by cheap oil are already starting to suffer and that we are entering into a long and extended period of adjustment.
Some people believe we have 100 – 200 years supply left of oil and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Increasingly those people are in a minority. Scientists, observers, strategists, oil companies and oil exporting nations are increasingly lining up behind the notion there may be trouble ahead. You may cynically think that oil exporting nations would have been the first but they have actually been the last.
After increasing in a linear fashion since the 1930s, oil production reached its peak in 2005…. at least, since the middle of 2005 we have not had a larger month, that was the peak so far. It is possible we may have another larger month at some stage. As time passes that looks remote and for all intents and purposes we are at the top of the curve, the peak of oil production, and are about to head down if not already descending.
Oil discoveries in recent years are slight compared to what we are using. Since 1981 we have used more than we find and at present we use 3 times more than we find. This is despite a greater and more concerted effort to find oil: large fields are not being found. The large oil finds have to all intents and purposes been located there is no more easy oil.
As you descend the other side of the peak oil slope however, it doesn’t take as long to descend as it does to ascend because obviously demand is so much higher now than it was while we ascended the slope. It won’t take another century to use the next half…. In fact much less. We are currently at highest demand and increasing by 7% every year.
For anyone with half an eye on the future and our reliability of energy supply, this subject is one of the most important in this document and I look forward to Commerce and Employment’s report coming forward. IF, IF this is the unfolding scenario, we certainly have work to do on this island to prepare for an uncertain future and the sooner we begin that preparation the better off we will be. If it is not, then we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get on with the business of lowering our carbon emissions to mitigate climate change instead of having to fight two major battles at the same time.
So, there are some very important work streams in here, work streams which should not be delayed and will not be delayed. We need to move many of these issues forward at breakneck speed and I look forward to the reports coming back from Environment Department, T&R and C&E as well as keeping a monitoring eye on the GBP. This report must be implemented, not left to moulder.
I personally believe that the five year review period as mentioned in paragraph 13.3 may be too long away, however, that review is destined to be a complete shakeup of the report, taking on board new developments and information and re-launching the energy Policy in the light of that. It is not the time at which these issues will next be looked at or monitored. This monitoring of the work streams will be constant and inexorable. We will be looking at every update of the GBP to see how these streams are progressing, we will be monitoring the departments and their progress. A good in depth look at the progress of the resolutions and work streams progress will occur every year and many people’s eyes will be on them.
Finally I would like to thank the Policy Council for affording me the opportunity to have my voice heard on this group. Although not a Minister, I was invited along with Deputy Guille as an interested party to the steering group and I hope we have proved the value of such working practices. I also need to mention the staggeringly professional support of the staff involved and the members of the group both politicians and non states members and my thanks go out to all the people who worked so hard on this document and who made contributions and entered into consultation. Many people have worked very hard over the past couple of years to bring this report to you. I am pleased to have played my small part in that and I wholeheartedly commend the Energy Policy to you. Thank you.