Chevron CEO warns premature low-carbon transition would be ‘painful and chaotic’
Written by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,
Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said maintaining a secure and affordable energy supply amid the push to decarbonize is one of the biggest challenges of the day, while warning that a premature shift to low carbon emissions risks a messy transition that would be “painful and chaotic.”
Wirth made the remarks during Monday’s session of S&P Global’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, one of the biggest annual events for the energy industry.
He told attendees that keeping supplies safe and affordable amid the the transition to a low-carbon economy was “one of the greatest challenges of all time”.
Wirth warned that a messy energy transition could be “painful and chaotic.”
“We have to be very careful about shutting down System A prematurely and based on a system that doesn’t exist yet and hasn’t been proven.” added.
His warning about the risks of a premature energy transition was echoed by other speakers, who urged industry leaders to avoid ill-conceived policies that would disrupt energy supplies and raise prices for consumers.
While some argued for faster decarbonisation, others emphasized the need for a well-planned and coordinated timetable for the transition.
Wirth’s remarks highlight one of the key themes of the event, namely the so-called energy trilemma, which is balancing energy affordability, security and transition.
“The current energy system cannot be responsibly unplugged”
Daniel Yergin, vice president of S&P Global and chairman of the CERAWeek conference, told Forbes that a major focus of the conference is how best to navigate a “much more turbulent and confusing energy picture” that characterized last year , which he said has been “very dramatic” for the industry.
Yergin cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example of the turbulence affecting the industry. The disruption of fossil fuel supplies to both industry and consumers helped drive up fuel prices and contributed to decades of high inflation in the United States and elsewhere.
During Monday’s conference, some industry experts saw the fallout from Russian supply disruptions as a reminder to avoid rash and ill-considered policies that cut fossil fuels or raise prices.
Sultan al-Jaber, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and chair-designate of the COP28 climate summit, said in a keynote speech at the event that energy industry leaders should seek the their experience and knowledge to find ways to ‘decarbonise faster’. and “future-proof rather.”
At the same time, al-Jaber warned the world “cannot responsibly disconnect today’s energy system until tomorrow’s system is ready.”
Liam Mallon, president of ExxonMobil Upstream Company, said during one of Monday’s sessions that each country would naturally take a different path in the energy transition, depending on the resources available.
US energy envoy Amos Hochstein said the most difficult part of decarbonisation is charting and coordinating a timeline.
“I think if you’re going to go through the biggest transformation the world has seen in over 100 years, to disconnect from one energy system and create another, you can’t do it without planning.” Hochstein said.
Yergin told Forbes that the outages over the past year or so have revived discussions about energy security, which had largely fallen off the table in the U.S. thanks to the shale revolution, and with added momentum of former President Donald Trump’s domestic energy policies.
“If you remember, seven or eight American presidents talked about energy independence, and it often seemed like, oh, well, that’s just a campaign slogan, but it’s never going to happen.” Yergin told the network.
“But then, lo and behold, a decade or so ago, the US became energy independent. And that had a huge economic impact. It’s also had a huge political impact. And it also meant that people forgot about the security. But that’s certainly on the table again today,” he added.
In 2019, under Trump, the United States produced more energy than it consumed for the first time in 62 years, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Republicans have been critical of President Joe Biden for pushing energy policies they see as hindering domestic production. They have often highlighted Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and measures that restricted impending energy projects such as halting new oil and gas leases.
Biden has made the fight against climate change and the decarbonization of the economy one of the hallmarks of his presidency.
Meanwhile, Trump recently laid out his vision for U.S. energy policies, promising to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord if elected, while pledging to eliminate regulations that hold back domestic energy production and promises to quickly approve energy infrastructure projects.