Commerce Secretary tells Copenhagen audience the oil economy is over

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addresses a p...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

COPENHAGEN–The world’s petroleum-based economy belongs to the past, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said here Friday.

He urged the 192 nations who sent representatives to the UN Climate Change Conference to resist pressures from those with vested interests in the status quo, eliminate incentives to the petroleum industry, and design incentives to create jobs in the clean-energy industry.

Locke said unparalleled economic growth occurred in the 20th Century because of two factors: access to cheap, abundant fossil fuels and ignorance or disregard for the fact that those fuels produced greenhouse gas pollution that caused global warming. Both of those factors, he said, belong to history.

“Those days are over,” Locke said moments ago in Copenhagen. “What’s required is nothing less than completely redesigning the way we produce and consume energy…. We’re talking about creating an entirely new model of economic growth.”The world has spent a century investing in petroleum infrastructure, Locke said: refineries, pipelines, stations.

“That creates vested interests in keeping things just the way they are,” he said.

Locke urged nations to stop catering to those interests. They should do so, he said, by eliminating subsidies to energy producers who also produce greenhouse gases.

President Obama’s 2009-10 budget eliminated what he called “oil and gas company preferences,” saving an estimated $12.7 billion during his first term in office and an estimated $31.5 billion over the next decade. The budget also included an excise tax that restores royalty revenues omitted from leases on off-shore drilling sites in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nations can spur jobs growth by redirecting those incentives to renewable energy concerns, making it easier for them to solve the problem of climate change.

“This climate problem too big and the need for innovation too great to involve government alone.”

Previous post:

Next post: