Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson promises action on peak oil

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Coun. Andrea Reimer are promising they will make Vancouver ready for peak oil.

“We have to address peak oil,” Robertson told the Georgia Straight at City Hall. “That’s a hard reality.”¦I think it could end up compounding the looming challenges we face with oil supply and an economy that’s totally dependent on cheap energy right now.”

Peak oil refers to the point at which the rate of global oil production maxes out, sending the supply of the resource into an inevitable decline.

In October, the U.K. Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security released a 43-page report entitled The Oil Crunch. The report anticipates peak-oil-related problems hitting the U.K. starting in 2011 and says the threat posed by peak oil is greater than that of terrorism.

Robertson and Reimer both say that lower oil prices don’t mean that action on peak oil should wait.

“Andrea Reimer is leading the charge on the ”˜greenest city’ initiatives, and I will speak with her about how we integrate a peak-oil strategy,” Robertson said. “Certainly it needs to be factored in. I think we underestimate this at our peril right now, and it needs to be factored in with the decisions we are making this term for sure.”

Reimer said she would like to see a task force created to address the issue.

“The thrust of it would be, what is the impact on citizens living in Vancouver of the phenomenon of peak oil?” Reimer told the Straight in a separate interview at City Hall. “What’s it going to impact the most?”

Regarding task-force members, she named as possible candidates UBC professor Bill Rees, Vancouver Peak Oil Executive founder Richard Balfour, and FarmFolk/CityFolk cofounder Herb Barbolet.

In November, Rees, originator of the ecological-footprint concept, said that Robertson’s interest in peak oil was “encouraging”.

“It’s one thing to recognize a problem, but it’s quite another to create policies that will address it effectively,” Rees told the Straight.

“Now, if they act [Vision Vancouver acts] assuredly, consistent with their beliefs here, they’ll probably be thrown out in the next round, because they will upset so much of the public,” Rees said. “That is, unless they explain it adequately. What politicians fail to do is educate the public on why certain policy directives are necessary. They fail to put in place the accompanying policy directives that will ease the pain of transition.”




Dec 23, 2008 at 4:55pm

It is very encouraging to read that Mayor Robertson recognizes the gravity of peak oil and that he plans to address it. William Rees would be a superb choice as a task force member. The issue of peak oil appears to have been suppressed. It is sorely overdue to be covered by the media as I feel it is by far the clearest and most present threat to life as we know it. Even without financial collapse and environmental collapse, peak oil means the party called modern civilization is over. Make no mistake. We are on the brink of spectacular collapse unless peak oil is addressed. We need electric rail everywhere ten years ago. Massive investment is needed in solar and wind power. All possible hydro power must be developed now before we are no longer able. Fossil fuels are appropriate for only one thing; earth-moving machines. We should build a land bridge and rail line from Vancouver to the Sunshine coast NOW. We must get out of cars. Relocalize. De-globalize. Learn to grow food. Set your imaginations for the year 1900 except with computers and cell phones. Believe me later.

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Dec 24, 2008 at 7:53pm

Mayor Roberston will have to do much to realize the reality of Peal Oil.

Independent studies conclude that Peak Oil production will occur (or has occurred) between 2005 to 2010 (projected year for peak in parentheses), as follows:

* Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

* Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008)

* Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst (2008)

* Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

* T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

* Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell Geologist (2005)

* Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

* Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

* Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

* Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

Independent studies indicate that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

"By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame."

With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed:

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Right Wing Nut Job

Dec 26, 2008 at 5:58am

Robertson is not exhibiting leadership. Rather he is reacting to global hysteria along the likes of "Global Warming" or the "y2k" crisis. Chicken Little has been worrying about "peak oil" since the 1930's. Believe me - if oil was in short supply it wouldn't be trading at around $US40 per barrel.

Robertson should make a name for himself by ensuring Vancouverites are getting good value for our municipal tax dollar. Wasting time on the latest "crisis" is not good value.

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Dec 27, 2008 at 9:48pm

"Peak Oil" is still the number one contender for the "Long Emergency" prize. Lets not forget that the world as we know it, is presently based on an "oil infrastructure". With prices just having reached the all time high of $147/barrel in Jully, our world economies have just been through the ringer. The real estate crisis has been ongoing in the US for 4 years now, but only since Oct. has it been dramatic enough for main stream media to actually report on it.

The Straight deserves kudos for being one of the few paper media outlets to report on Peak Oil and now finally we have some sane leadership at Vancouver City Hall. <a href="">TheOilDrum</a> website is another excellent blog site if you are looking for factual and technical posts and blogging.

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