Tag Archives: global warming

The consequences of American energy independence

The World Energy Outlook 2012 that was released on November 12 contained many interesting projections and comments. One that was particularly interesting from a political climate change perspective was the following:

The recent rebound in US oil and gas production /…/ is spurring economic activity – with less expensive gas and electricity prices giving industry a competitive edge – and steadily changing the role of North America in global energy trade. By around 2020, the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer /…/ The result is a continued fall in US oil
imports, to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.

On the one hand, this could imply that when the United States is finally generating an energy surplus, it may become serious in taking on climate change. But on the other hand, a more likely scenario in my opinion is rather that the United States will appreciate finally becoming energy independent and will show even less effort than today. As The Economist puts it:

[T]he elimination of ‘dependence on foreign oil’ as an economic and security bogeyman may lead the world’s largest economy to abdicate responsibility for global leadership on climate change even more than it already has.

Another interesting political perspective, albeit not so much related to climate change, is how the geopolitics of the Middle East will change when America no longer is dependent on oil imports from the region whereas China’s energy imports are projected to continue to grow. How will this shift affect the political dynamics in the world’s most unstable region?

Simon Hedlin

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