Gregor Robertson flags challenge of peak oil

During his victory speech at the Vision Vancouver mayoral nomination on June 15, Gregor Robertson told the crowd that Vancouverites face the twin issues of “climate change and peak oil”.

The Vancouver-Fairview NDP MLA had just been declared the winner at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver, garnering 3,495 votes out of a total of 6,771 cast. Robertson saw off the challenges of Coun. Raymond Louie and Comm. Allan De Genova for the Vision mayoral nod.

“We might look like a sustainable city,” Robertson told the crowd. “But we’ve got the challenges of climate change and peak oil bearing down on us.” Robertson did not elaborate, and calls to him and campaign manager Brad Zubyk were not returned.

Peak oil refers to the point reached when the demand for oil and the cost of its extraction keeps increasing and supply gets tighter and pushes up costs, leading to a permanent decline curve. In his January 2008 report, Peak Oil: Alternatives, Renewables and Impacts, Mexico-based retired political science professor Clifford Wirth notes that “the consequences of peak and permanent decline in oil production could be even more prolonged and severe than those of past oil supply shocks”.

On April 24, the Straight asked Robertson (and other mayoral candidates) why the City of Vancouver had not issued a peak-oil document like the City of Burnaby did in 2004.

“Our current mayor is asleep at the switch on this looming crisis,” Robertson said at the time. “The era of cheap energy is over, and I don’t understand why the NPA council have not taken action. Vancouver needs to move urgently to being carbon-smart and self-sufficient, boosting local food, clean energy, and efficient transportation and water use and zero waste.”

Responding to the same question, NPA mayoral candidate and two-term councillor Peter Ladner said: “We can look at a lot of the EcoDensity measures as responses to peak oil.”