Developing nations will account for all growth in global oil consumption for the foreseeable future, International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol reports. Birol, speaking at a gathering of energy executives in Houston, noted IEA’s medium-term global oil outlook foresees the United States dominating oil production growth during the outlook’s five-year timeframe.
The news on oil consumption reveals serious challenges facing people concerned about human-induced global warming. Although the United States, Western Europe, and other developed nations have put a halt to growth in oil usage and carbon dioxide emissions, developing nations continue to drive rapid emissions growth on a global scale. Regardless of what the United States and other western democracies do to reduce emissions, reducing global emissions requires dramatic changes in the emissions trends of developing nations.
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The single greatest factor in declining U.S. emissions during the past decade has been natural gas replacing coal as the leading fuel source for U.S. power plants. Similar to U.S. and global oil consumption trends, U.S. coal consumption has declined during the past decade while global coal consumption has grown substantially.
American policymakers have a golden opportunity to help reduce global emissions while positioning the United States to economically benefit from the global emissions situation. Rapidly developing nations like China and India want to reduce debilitating urban air pollution but refuse to absorb large energy price hikes to do so. Recent advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technologies have allowed U.S. energy producers to deliver clean-burning natural gas at competitive prices with coal. This economic development has been the primary factor in natural gas replacing coal in domestic electricity production. Removing barriers to U.S. natural gas exports will bring more foreign wealth to the United States while simultaneously improving the global environment.
At the federal, state, and local levels, government policymakers have imposed a gauntlet of restrictions on fracking, including making fracking illegal in entire states. Yet every unit of natural gas kept out of the global energy market is a unit of energy that is more likely to be filled by more emissions-intensive coal. When policymakers cave in to the alt-left’s agenda of opposing all natural gas production, they unintentionally sentence people to dirtier air and higher carbon dioxide emissions.
Similarly, federal, state, and local policymakers have impeded the export of American natural gas to other nations, including blocking the construction of natural gas export terminals under the curious guise of environmental concerns. Blocking American energy companies from selling natural gas to developing nations sentences those nations to more pollution, higher energy prices, and more carbon dioxide emissions.