No need to talk to them; they don’t have the support anymore

Six of the seven main contenders for the Republican nomination in the United States reject action on climate change.
The number of Americans who believe the earth is warming dropped to 59 percent last year from 79 percent in 2006, according to polling by the Pew Research Group.
In Britain, the issue has quietly dropped off the political agenda to be replaced by the gathering momentum for ‘fracking’.
It is true that the European Union seems to be maintaining commitment to action but a cynic might suggest that this is because the public hasn’t noticed.

The consequences for the energy sector may be very different in the short and in the long term. There seems little doubt that the economic travails of the Europe and the U.S. are creating further headwinds for those pursuing climate change action.
Conversely, therefore, for the oil and gas industry it seems less important to keep good relationships with the environmental groups, as their impact appears to be reduced; easy drilling seems back in the game. The industry appears to have entered bonanza time.

Rather like the banks up until the collapse of the credit bubble.
As the bubble grew the consensus was that a ‘new dawn’ was upon us. The ‘goldilocks economy’ meant that debt could get higher and higher, to question this was to be a ‘naysayer’. From Wall Street to Dublin regulation and prudence collapsed; to the wild applause of the politicians and the public rejoicing in the ‘end of boom and bust’ and access to apparently endless credit.
Then came the bust.

Now comes the blame. The public hostility to “the bankers” is fertile ground for politicians transferring blame and creating ‘haircuts’ to match the new mood. As the mood sours further, the recriminations may get personal.
Those oil and gas executives who are getting a warm glow from their popularity with politicians now should remember that what goes around comes around. The belief that the public will recognize that it is the politicians who are now calling for more fossil fuel extraction and that therefore that is where the blame will go if something goes wrong, will surely turn out to be mistaken.
If climate change brings nasty surprises sooner than the optimists hope, it will be open season on ‘big oil’ once again. Then the view that ‘no one cares what the environmental pressure groups think’ will seem as quaint as calling bankers ‘masters of the universe’.

November 2011