In recent years there has been growing and well-founded concern that the world is reaching (or has already) ‘peak’ or ‘plateau’ of global oil production. The global economy, countries (including New Zealand), and sectors have thrived on the back of cheap oil. Increases in global oil prices or long term shortfalls will affect the world we live in substantially and ways need to be found to minimise the inevitable disruptions that go along with a transformation to less oil intensive economies and societies.
New Zealand has a natural advantage to achieve energy security, largely because of its already high degree of renewable energy sources used for electricity generation, but also due to its large space to population ratio which offers great potential for increased generation from sources such as wind and solar. New Zealand also has some oil resources that remain unexploited and that might facilitate an easier transition if well-planned and wisely used. This is a highly political issue that has brought the discussion around oil resources close to home. Despite the obvious signs of this impending challenge, the issue of peak oil – and how it sits alongside other future challenges – is given very little attention. As a result very little is done to proactively manage the risk by developing and implementing strategies towards a low-carbon society and economy.
This 2010 LEaP Think Tank is an initiative to raise awareness of the seriousness of peak oil for New Zealand and to provide relevant knowledge to assist strategic planning for a transition to a low carbon economy. The goal of the Think Tank is to address three questions:
- What would NZ look like under the assumption of a radically reduced availability of oil?
- What are the most important development drivers that may need to be addressed (in addition to oil) to steer NZ towards a resilient state in which functioning is sustainable without the input of oil?
- What knowledge gaps are evident that constrain our ability to understand and plan for a low carbon society/economy?
In preparation of the think tank we produced an “Evidence Portfolio” that summarises a range of key issues on a collection of one-pagers. The document can be downloaded here.
The participants of the Think Tank were:
- Bob Frame, Landcare Research
- Bob Lloyd, Otago University
- Ralph Sims, Massey University
- Susan Krumdieck, Canterbury University
- Gavin Kenny, Earthwise Consulting
- Alan Hart, Petroleum Geologist
- John Peet, Canterbury University
- Stefanie Rixecker, Lincoln University
- Jody Beck, Lincoln University
- Susanne Becken, Lincoln University
Also of interest: Geopolitics of Oil in New Zealand
Summary of a Summer Scholarship and Conference Report.