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Opportunity knocks to reduce oil dependence

16 September 2008

Opportunity knocks to reduce oil dependence: Greens

The drop in oil prices by a third from their record high in July will be welcome to motorists but relief at the pumps is only a temporary reprieve, the Green Party says.

"Oil prices have fallen for the wrong reasons. Supply has not increased, new discoveries are not outweighing depletion, and there's been no surge in greater efficiency or renewable energy substitutes," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons explains.

"The world is currently experiencing a recession and people do not have the money to buy oil. This is what the industry calls 'demand destruction'.

"There is a risk that concern about reducing our dependence on oil will subside with prices and even less will be done to prepare for a future with little oil. But as soon as the world economy - and especially the US economy - recovers from its financial crisis, demand will grow again and prices will resume their upwards trend.

"We have a breathing space to invest in infrastructure and new technology to reduce our oil use. We should use this window of opportunity to ensure our rail system, our public transport, our urban planning, our broadband roll-out, are all on track to provide a good future when high oil prices certainly return.

"It would also be a good time to bring transport fuels into the emissions trading scheme as the extra cost right now would not be felt. That would help ensure that when the oil crunch comes again people have bought more efficient cars, got out their bikes and thought about where they live in relation to public transport routes, workplaces and schools.

"We will look back with real regret on the Prime Minister's hasty decision earlier this year to give a further two year holiday to transport fuels, charging their share of our Kyoto obligation to the taxpayer instead."


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