Preparing for Peak Oil

June 26, 2008 | 00:00

Preparing for Peak Oil

An increasing number of energy analysts are convinced that global oil production will peak and go into sustained decline within about the next decade. So in addition to the challenge of climate change, we will soon have to contend with a rapidly growing deficit in transport fuels. This is likely to cause big spikes in the oil price and potentially devastating economic and social impacts, with huge implications for the provision of services by local government. Peak oil, as it is usually described, is seldom publicly acknowledged by environmentalists or governments, but is gaining acceptance among city and local authorities around the world.

The purpose of this report is to summarize which authorities are doing what, and to draw together the most promising polices for tackling peak oil, so that all British local authoritiescan benefit from best practice being developed both at home and abroad. Almost every area of policy is affected, from public transport to planning, and the report is especially relevant for councils affected by the planned expansion of Britain's airports: mass air travel could be an early casualty of peak oil.

The suggested policy changes are usually complimentary to those required to combat global warming, but there are also important distinctions that may affect the conclusions drawn by local authorities. This is particularly true of natural gas, where supply difficulties are also expected in the relatively short term. But whatever the motivation of a particular council climate change or peak oil - many of the suggested policies would also reduce expenditure almost immediately simply by saving energy.

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