United Nation Policies Demonstrate A Lack Of Energy Literacy – OpEd


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has used the claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to push the Paris Climate Agreement, and based on that, the quest for Net Zero emissions.

The developed world, maybe 40 of the United Nations 193 member countries, hold the UNFCCC in high regard and support its push, oblivious to the consequences.  The push for Net Zero emissions fails to address basic Energy Literacy questions.

The future prosperity of the other 153 countries relies on the same fundamentals that enabled development in wealthier countries – reliable electricity, reliable transport, and a myriad of products manufactured using fossil fuels and their derivatives.

About 80% of the global population of 8 billion people live in less developed countries. Much of Africa and South-East Asia are prime examples of this, but also Pacific Ocean Island states. The people in those countries might live on less than $10 per day but the greater problem is that they have little or no access to reliable electricity, nor to the myriad of products manufactured using fossil fuels and their derivatives. The “green” agendas of the developed world are threatening to never allow them access to it.

Policies developed from the Paris Climate Agreement avoid three key issues and the obvious questions.

The developed world relies heavily on fossil fuels for transport in various forms – road, rail, sea, and sky. These are vital elements in the supply chains for a modern society, be it bringing food to our plates or material goods for our comfort and well-being. Thus, Energy Literacy question #1:

  • How does the UNFCCC expect the developed world to cope without such products supporting its supply chains and how does it expect the less developed world to improve?

Most manufacturing processes require both reliable electricity, currently often sourced from fossil fuels, and the derivatives and by-products of those fossil fuels. The derivatives include lubricant and kerosene, and among the over 6,000 items made from petroleum oil derivatives we find fertilizers, insecticides, perfume, vitamins, and some essential amino acids. Thus, Energy Literacy question #2:

  • How does the UNFCCC expect the less-developed world to never want products based on fossil fuels and can the developed world cope without such products?

The modern world needs a reliable, uninterruptable supply of electricity. This is obvious for situations where the use of electricity is sustained, such as industry, hospitals, communications, transport, as well as commercial buildings and schools. But it is also true where electricity use is irregular. Who wants to be part way through a dental procedure when the electricity supply stops? Who wants to be needing to recharge their cell phone but be unable to do so?

You might think we could just buy generators as back-ups to the electricity supply but what would power those generators?

The key renewables, wind and solar, only generate electricity under favourable weather conditions and in the case of solar, only across certain times of the day and even those decrease in winter.

Batteries are not the answer because the installations would need to be huge to manage sustained periods of little generation by renewables, especially instances of multiple such periods in quick succession. Thus, Energy Literacy question #3:

  • How does the UNFCCC expect the modern world to cope if the power supply is irregular, especially when renewables are at the mercy of the weather?

These are not issues only for the UNFCCC. They are issues that should be widely discussed among all of society, especially by those people and organizations that might influence government policy.

Governments should be carefully considering the consequences of the UNFCCC’s demands, not dancing to the UNFCCC’s tune but acting in the best interests of their citizens.

We sometimes hear claims that other countries will not trade with us unless we acquiesce to UNFCCC’s demands. But what would we trade if our supply chains were broken, if the by-products of fossil fuel were unavailable and the electricity supply was unreliable?

If by some miracle we did manufacture something and want to export it, we would be at one end of the supply chain to our customers and must rely on transport that uses no fossil fuels. And good luck with getting goods onto aircraft or ships if you have no electricity to power the loaders and dockside cranes.

And MOST importantly, there is a lost reality in those United Nation policiesthat the primary usage of crude oil is NOT for the generation of electricity, but to manufacture derivatives and fuels which are the ingredients of everything needed by economies and lifestyles to exist and prosper, i.e., all products that did not exist pre-1800’s. 

The oxymoron situation is that the aircraft, ships, loaders, and dockside cranes, as well as everything that “needs” electricity are all made from the oil derivatives manufactured from crude oil, the same fossil fuels that the UNFCCC wishes to eliminate! Thus, as we rid the use of fossil fuels, there will be nothing that “needs” electricity!

None of the six methods for the generation of electricity can manufacture any products to support a materialistic society! Electricity can charge an iPhone but cannot make the iPhone. Electricity can make the defibrillator work in the hospital but cannot make the defibrillator.

The three Energy Literacy questions mentioned above are not being considered by policies based on the Paris Climate Agreement, but they should be. The goal to achieve Net Zero emissions would severely impact the supply chain of products from fossil fuels and result in billions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition, starvation, and weather-related deaths. 

Ronald Stein

Ronald Stein, Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California.

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