The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Can We Accelerate Towards a Green Future with High Gas Prices?
Dear Diary. Today I’m going to riff a bit about my conspiracy theory (or hunch) that gas prices are artificially high because oil companies have a great deal of incentive to make sure that the Biden Administration and Democrats fail. That’s not to state that all of the additional approximate $3 in additional costs are due to this, but I suspect some, raising the price from $2 to about $5 over the past year. Will gas prices fall back to around $2 if a Republican becomes President at the start of 2025? We will see.
The next three years before then will have a lot of factors that will influence gas prices, such as the ongoing Ukraine War. I’m sure that domestic U.S. suppliers are scrambling again to frack oil, opening capped wells that weren’t viable when gas fell to as low as $2 a gallon during the pandemic year of 2020. These newer sources, some from old wells, spawned the oil boom of the 2010’s due to fracking technology, lowering prices from a high of about $4 around 2010 to $2, so much so that the boom went bust for many. I suspect that gas prices will fall slowly for the next few months, despite any politics.
In any case, the question of the day is whether or not high gas prices will spur people to buy all electric vehicles faster. Probably, but as stated, there could be a big backlash against Biden in 2022 and again in 2024 such that fascist Republicans, who are in bed with the fossil fuel industry, come into real power. That would be devastating to all environmental movements since we can’t dilly dally any longer to prevent a very real climate crisis.
For those thinking that high gas prices are a good thing and that we as a society should not promote lower gas prices that might lengthen any transitional period, this article is for you. And yes, there can be offsetting governmental tax methods to ease energy consumer’s pain mentioned in the article. Keep in mind, though, that the least among us, or the working poor, will hurt the most from current high gas prices:
PETERING PETROL —
High fossil fuel prices are good for the planet—here’s how to keep it that way
Switching to renewables will only happen if gas prices remain expensive.
NEIL MCCULLOCH, THE CONVERSATION – 6/20/2022, 4:00 AM
In the UK, it now costs more than 100 pounds to fill up a typical family car with petrol, and oil prices could rise even further. But are such high prices for fossil fuels a bad thing? While attention is focused on measures to tackle the global cost of living crisis, there has been much less focus on a very uncomfortable truth—that solving the climate crisis requires fossil fuel prices for consumers to stay high forever.
Saying such a thing may seem tone-deaf. Millions of households in rich countries are facing a choice between heating and eating. In poorer countries, the situation is immeasurably worse. Rising prices for gas have dramatically increased the cost of fertilizer, while the war in Ukraine is hampering the export of its wheat.
Together these are leading to spiraling food prices globally, triggering a surge in inflation and worsening the already dire food security situation in places such as Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and Madagascar. We are already witnessing widespread foot riots just like those between 2008 and 2011, when citizens around the world protested the failure of their states to deliver their most basic right—the right to eat.
To mitigate the impact of high prices, we have seen a screeching reversal of energy policies around the world. In November 2021, governments at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow pledged to tax carbon and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. But faced with dramatic increases in the cost of fuel and electricity, those same governments have scrambled to slash taxes on energy, put in place price caps, and introduce new subsidies.
Yet keeping global warming to under 1.5°C will require a dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels, starting now. The unfortunate reality is that one of the most effective ways of getting people to use less fossil fuel is to ensure they are expensive.
Of course, the best way of moving away from fossil fuels is for there to be better (and preferably cheaper) alternatives. But investment in these renewable alternatives will only happen if people are clearly switching to them, and that requires consumer prices for fossil fuels to remain high.
Of course, high fossil fuel prices are typically unpopular and can even lead to riots. Between 2005 and 2018, 41 countries had at least one riot directly associated with popular demand for fuel. In 2019 alone, there were major protests related to energy in Sudan, France, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Lebanon, Ecuador, Iraq, Chile, and Iran—many of which turned into riots.
Riots in Haiti in 2019 caused by a fuel shortage. Jean Marc Herve Abelard / EPA
Colleagues and I recently published research showing that these riots are caused by price spikes, often after fuel subsidies have been removed. These price spikes triggered fuel riots when citizens felt they had no other options for voicing their anger over government policies and actions (or when states attempted to violently suppress them from doing so).
High prices, happy citizens
Is it possible to keep fossil fuel prices high without triggering riots? The key is to keep consumer prices high by increasing fuel taxes when international oil and gas prices do eventually fall. Making this politically acceptable requires two things to happen.
First, consumers will not accept high prices if it means high profits for fossil fuel companies. Maintaining high prices for consumers must be complemented by a radical overhaul of the taxation regime facing fossil fuel companies, not just one-off windfall taxes. Those taxes would maintain high consumer prices even though the fossil fuel companies wouldn’t actually receive very much—enough to cover reasonable costs, but not enough to invest in further fossil fuel production. As the International Energy Agency has pointed out, to achieve net zero by 2050, the amount of investment needed in new oil and gas production is zero.
Second, consumers will be much more willing to accept higher prices for fossil fuels if the additional tax they pay is returned to citizens as an equal carbon grant. Alaska has done something similar, putting a share of oil revenues into a “permanent fund” which it then distributes through a cheque to every household each year (though this approach can go wrong—in Alaska politicians ended up cutting public services to maintain payments from the state fund).
Getting an annual payment, equal to the taxes imposed to keep fossil fuel prices high, would cushion the hurt from higher prices. It would also be progressive, since those who consume the most fossil fuels would pay more in tax, while those who consume little would pay less but receive the same payment from the fund and therefore end up in profit. There might also need to be additional compensation for poor groups with high fossil fuel usage, such as people on lower incomes who have to use their cars for work.
Soaring energy costs are a disaster for poor consumers worldwide. But ironically, they also provide an opportunity to shift the world from its fossil fuel addiction. If we take this chance to make fossil fuel prices permanently high, we can accelerate the transition to cleaner energy in a way that is fair for all and avert deeper crises in the years ahead.
Here are some “ET’s” and precipitation records recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks. Record reports coming out of Europe are very disturbing:
Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”