Discussing Phaseout Profit with Chris Nelder

Chris Nelder kindly exchanged a couple of Tweets with me on the topic of Phaseout Profit Theory. You can read the discussion if you subscribe to both of our Twitter feeds.

The conservation started from this Tweet by Nelder about the recent comments by oil industry spokesman Pruitt, pointing out that fossil fuel interests have $$$ substantial $$$ influence $$$ as lobbyists $$$ on American policy. He quoted a post written in 2012 where he runs the numbers, which show that the fossil fuel industry outspent renewable energy by a factor of over 100.

I agree completely with that post, and that this is what explains Pruitt’s strange comments.

He isn’t quite yet convinced that Phaseout Profit will work. There are two objections.

For one, he doubts if production limits could be enforced, citing negative experiences at the OPEC level.

That’s a valid concern. Production limits are meaningless without enforcing them.

But oil production is a large-scale business with a limited number of actors involved. And in many cases the producer will need a license for drilling on public land or offshore anyhow. You can’t easily produce oil while hiding the fact.

That in turn makes it relatively easy to enforce production limits, if one introduces them in the first place.

The second objection was that the Trump will not introduce any production limits for US producers.

That’s true under present conditions, where the oil industry doesn’t ask the politicians to do that.

But looking at the amount of influence the oil industry has in American politics, this would change very quickly if the oil companies started lobbying for such production limits.

This is rather different than business as usual. It might take some time to actually happen. It may be a long shot.

But it is still more realistic than Bill McKibben and his allies being able to get anything done against the will of the oil companies.