By Bartolomej Tomic
Offshore Energy Today readers on Tuesday had a chance to watch a live stream of an on-air discussion which was happening on Community Square of the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference currently being held in the Amsterdam Rai Convention Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The discussion themed “We’ll always have Paris” was a sort of a follow-up to the last year’s Paris agreement on climate change, COP21, when almost all the world’s nations pledged to take the global warming seriously.
The pledge was to try and not allow global warming to go over two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
For those not following the stream, it was a rather interesting discussion, with speakers from Dutch offshore wind company Eneco, International Association of Oil and Gas Producers and Follow This.
Follow This, represented by Mark van Baal, is a movement of green shareholders in Shell. They are striving to get enough shareholders to the “green side” eventually getting a big enough shareholder support to drive the oil and gas giant towards renewables such as solar and wind.
Van Baal said that the oil companies are spending cash drilling “deeper and deeper” instead of investing in the alternative energy which is becoming “cheaper and cheaper.”
On the Paris agreement, Van Baal said:” We need to change course, starting today. If we continue at this pace, we’ll reach 2 degrees in 2030.“
He said that the growing population needs to be „fueled“ by renewable energy, and while Shell is very socially involved, the company needs the shareholder support to make a switch from fossil fuels.
It’s not an iPhone
While Van Baal called for immediate action, Olaf Martins, Global Engagement Manager of IOGP, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, called for a more balanced approach.
He said that one cannot simply switch off the use of the fossil fuels, adding that energy transitions do not work like an iPhone, where the iPhone was introduced in 2007, and now everybody has it. He sees oil and gas as major fuel for decades to come.
He said that energy transition takes decades, adding that 85 percent of global emissions come from consumers burning fossil fuels. He said that technology, CCS (Carbon Capture Storage), and switching coal with gas might be the key to reduce emissions.
“We need to help consumers to reduce emissions, through better, lighter, more efficient cars, for example,” Martins said. He also held up a five-pound bill, proving a point that oil is needed in other industries as money bills, plastics, lubricants are all made using oil derivates.
According to the Bank of England, polymer notes are better for the environment.
“This is because they last longer and so we have to print fewer notes, which means less energy is used in manufacturing and cash transportation. When a polymer note has reached the end of its life it will be recycled into new plastic products,“ the Bank of England says on its website.
Van Baal, from Follow This, made a joke regarding the polymer fiver: “Using oil to make banknotes is great, as you are sure it will never get burnt.”
So, what does the Paris deal mean?
One of the guests on Tuesday was Ron Wit, Director Public Affairs at Eneco, a Dutch offshore wind operator. While he said that the Paris agreement was important, he also said there were many unknowns regarding the climate change deal.
He said that there was no support to carry out the Paris agreement and that people and companies don’t know what it entails.
Thus, Wit said, dozens of Dutch companies will go to the government to plead for the Paris agreement to be “translated” into a law to act upon, and make things clearer.
Asked what the companies needed to do in order for the Paris agreement to be met, WIT said they needed to switch from oil to other sources, take responsibility and make sure that the Paris deal is achieved.
Follow This’ Van Baar was more concrete. He called for the end of fossil fuels saying: “The stone age didn’t end for the lack of stones. Oil era need not end for the lack of oil.”
IOGP’s Olaf Martins acknowledged the climate change was an issue that needs to be dealt with, but added that oil is here to stay, and currently cannot be replaced by renewables: “What makes oil successful is its incredible density. One gram of oil can move one ton, over one kilometer.”
This was the first of the three live streams from the Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference.
We’ll be bringing two more on Wednesday. See details below:
The Community Square program
Wednesday 26 October, 12.30 – 13.30 hrs CET
Talk-show “From bust to boom” On careers in oil, gas, and renewables.
Wednesday 26 October, 16.00 – 17.00 hrs CET
Talk-show “Future-proof your business” On how energy companies are preparing for a low carbon world.
For more information on the talk-shows and to see who’s on what show, click here.