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In a new set of remarks attacking the global oil and gas industry last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres raised the hyperbole level one more time, attacking oil company investments in carbon capture and storage projects (CCS) as “proposals to become more efficient planet wreckers.”
The Financial Times, AP and other outlets reported that Guterres further stated, “Let’s face facts. The problem is not simply fossil fuel emissions. It’s fossil fuels — period. We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open, with far too many willing to bet it all on wishful thinking, unproven technologies and silver bullet solutions.” Later in his comments, he also said, “Trading the future for thirty pieces of silver is immoral.”
The allusion to fossil fuel emissions apparently targeted United Arab Emirates COP28 president-designate Sultan al-Jaber, who is also the head of the state oil company Adnoc. Mr. al-Jaber has rejected attacks on the future license to operate of the industry itself, like those from Mr. Guterres, reasoning that the focus should be on the control of emissions instead. The UAE will play host to the 2023 COP28 conference in Dubai from November 30 through December 12, a reality that has provoked concern from the global climate alarmist movement.
Secretary Guterres has made a habit of using hyperbolic, bombastic rhetoric in his periodic attacks on the oil and gas industry, at one point in August 2022 claiming the industry was responsible for putting the world on a “highway to climate hell,” so his latest outburst is really no surprise. What is notable from this current bit of bombast, though, is the irony of a consistent proponent of an “energy transition” that schemes to displace highly energy-dense fuels like oil, gas and coal with low energy-density wind, solar and lithium-ion batteries accusing anyone else of being willing to rely on “wishful thinking, unproven technologies and silver bullet solutions.”
For decades now, since at least the early 1990s, we have been treated to claim after claim of a step-change in battery technology that would enable weather-reliant wind and solar to suddenly become 24/7 providers of energy being just around the corner. Yet, though billions have been invested in research and development of new technologies, this silver bullet remains unproven, still just around the corner, where it has supposedly resided for 30 years or more.
We have been consistently told by much of our legacy media, invariably quoting from renewables boosters, that wind energy is now extremely cheap and supposedly out-competing coal and natural gas. Yet, just Monday, the CEO of Big Wind developer Orsted, Mads Nipper, urged the British government to provide even more subsidization to offshore wind projects struggling to obtain private financing. This plea came despite the many billions of pounds in subsidies and tax breaks already provided by the UK to the wind industry, and despite the fact that Orsted itself enjoyed record profits in 2022.
Given that, perhaps UK officials should be pursuing to levy a windfall profit tax on Big Wind instead. After all, if “trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” what then is trading the future for hundreds of billions in debt-funded subsidies?
The point here, though, is that wind energy remains exactly the kind of “unproven technology” Sec. Guterres accuses oil companies of pursuing. So, too, are the electric vehicles Guterres and other global elites promote as the “silver bullet” that can and will displace internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles. Yet, despite 20 years of heavy subsidization, Teslas and other EVs remain pricey luxury items affordable only to the higher classes of people in most nations, including the United States and Europe.
The impulse Sec. Guterres apparently feels to ramp up the hyperbolic attacks on oil and gas in support of an energy transition that is increasingly failing to progress as he hopes is unhelpful, and frankly silly. Global leaders should be engaged in a serious debate about the future of energy and energy security, but doing that requires having serious people engaged in the discussions.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Guterres so frequently demonstrates he does not qualify as such a person.
David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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