Al Gore: oil companies ‘use our atmosphere as an open sewer’

Al Gore: oil companies ‘use our atmosphere as an open sewer’

Will we burn all the fossil fuels we have in order to meet the world’s demand for energy, even if it results in climate chaos?

It’s not possible to listen to petroleum industry executives defending their reckless extraction of oil without feeling that we are living in an age of madness.

In a recent private conversation under the Chatham House rule, one of the world’s most senior industry leaders, who is considered to be at the more moderate end of the spectrum, insisted that we are going to burn all the world’s hydrocarbons despite the consequences.

His reasoning is that a growing population in the developing world needs energy to raise living standards, that renewables will not become a dominant energy source till the end of the century and that politicians don’t have the courage or power to limit production.

He acknowledged that the burning of all reserves would almost certainly lead to temperature rises of up to 4C, but argued the best way forward is to focus on limiting the damage through such technologies as carbon capture and storage.

As the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting opens in Davos, Switzerland, I asked the former US vice president Al Gore and climate economist Lord Stern, two of the world’s most respected climate activists, to make sense of the arguments of those running the fossil fuel industry.

Gore, who believes 80% of coal and two thirds of oil must be left untouched if we are to remain within a 2C temperature rise, said: “I had to think long and hard to think what that statement meant. It’s a non sequitur.”

He quoted Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a former oil minister in Saudi Arabia, who famously said: “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” …

Source: The Guardian

Date: January 2015

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