Over the past decade, Renewable energy has been projected by some of its ardent supporters, such as environmentalists and climate change champions, to phase out Oil. Fossil fuels are seen to be the bane to climate change. Last year when Nigerian Senator, Ben Murray-Bruce proposed an Electric car bill at the Nigerian Senate, many Nigerians called his proposal a “misplaced priority.” That event underlines the problem the world faces with switching to renewable energy.
Is Oil dangerous? Perhaps. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), fossil fuel emissions are the principal cause of global warming. A 2018 research shows that, “89% of global CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels and industrial activities. The research also shows Coal as the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and responsible for over 0.3C of the 1C increase in global average temperatures – making it the single largest source of global temperature rise.
“Oil releases a massive amount of carbon when burned – approximately a third of the world’s total carbon emissions. There have also been several oil spills in recent years that have a devastating impact on our ocean’s ecosystem.
“Natural gas is often seen as a cleaner energy source than Coal and Oil. However, it is still a fossil fuel and accounts for a fifth of the world’s total carbon emissions.”
With these revelations above, it is evident that the world can no longer rely on Oil for the sake of the world’s health. However, certain factors make this phasing out implausible. First, 95% of the fuel demands of the transportation sector are provided by Oil. Think of every means of transportation we have. Think of cars, trailers, trains, buses, marine vessels, and airplanes, that rely on petroleum fuels. The transition to renewable energy would take some systematic and systemic approach with the will of countries and mega-corporations.
And there lies the most prominent problem. Interests. The United States, which is the largest producer of Oil, has not shown enough desire to reduce the use of Oil. The President, Donald Trump, has once called “climate change” a hoax, which manifested in his viral exchanges with Greta Thunberg, the teenage girl who has championed the global movement for climate change. The American Government has always supported its energy industry and the oil economy. Lots of jobs will be lost if the energy industry suffers. The sole reason why Donald Trump reached out to Saudi Arabia and Russia to save the oil markets a few months ago was to protect the energy industry in America. Exxon, Chevron, and the other shale oil companies have invested billions into drilling and exploration, so how then will they support a cause that ruins their business profitability.
Talk of Saudi Arabia and Russia, both countries’ budgets depend heavily on Oil. Russia has one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, would it not be counterproductive to support renewable energy? This scenario applies to OPEC’s other members, the world’s most influential cartel in the energy space. In a bullet commentary released last year, OPEC said, “There is a mistaken public perception that renewables are the only solution to the climate challenge and that the oil and gas industry is the only or main source of pollution. This is not the case and does not match the views of either scientists or experts.”
If there is any evidence of how the United States and OPEC+ cannot cope with a reduced demand for Oil would be the Coronavirus-era we are in. The series of diplomatic interventions, budget revisions, budget deficits, revenue losses, company bankruptcies, and an increase in unemployment because of the fall in oil prices make you wonder if renewable energy can make its transition.
However, it seems Europe and the United Kingdom are keen on climate change and renewable energy. In the United Kingdom, in a 2019 research, Renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time. The renewables record was set in the third quarter of 2019 after its share of the electricity mix rose to 40%. Other European nations have shown the political will to support renewable energy.
The world needs Oil and has, over the years, been oil-dependent. Renewable energy would not phase out Oil like Thomas Edison’s light bulb phased out the candle industry unless the world superpowers allow it.