How a drop in oil prices today could fuel tomorrow's energy transition
Oil prices take a roller coaster. Ride I'm NPR. Chief meteorologist Paul Hotter here with climate. Castor oil prices fell below zero this week as much of the world shelters in place but the pandemic may also feel a six percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions. This year that's the biggest drop emissions since World War Two. So what does it mean for greenhouse gas emissions and energy as we rebuild the global economy marketplace correspondent Scott? Tong focuses on climate and Energy Scott. Welcome to climate cast. Paul needs to be with you so oil prices dipped into negative territory this week and then they spiked again. Put this into perspective. What's going on with the oil market so demand for the world's oil which until now had been kind of steady by one hundred million barrels of oil every day worldwide. That's fallen by thirty percent and now markets are Kinda flipping out trying to adjust to this whatever you call it. This pandemic normal were in now. Scott the lack of oil demand is also translating into a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions the world meteorological organization now predicts a greenhouse gas emissions will be down about six percent this year and the UN estimates global emissions must fall by around seven and a half percent every year from now until twenty thirty to stay within that one point five degrees Celsius goal on global temperature rise. How can we keep some of these emissions cuts and get the economy working again? I think there are opportunities in. There are also some challenges here. We've lost one in twenty million jobs you know. That's about one. Out of eight of us in the workforce so something has to change but the opportunity is to lock in some telecommute. You know we've learned that a lot of us can do most of our jobs Without having to commute to work there also might be an opportunity as far as our use of oil in the market right now. A lot of oil companies are in tough shape and so they're not investing in finding more oil. So what happens down? The road is if they don't find as much in demand comes back then. The kind of won't be enough in prices are GONNA go up. Then that makes it more affordable to find cheaper greener option. Say to buy electric vehicles and that kind of thing. I understand that if you shut off a well it's not easy to bring back on. Can that push markets in a cleaner greener direction right now in the oilfields of West Texas? They don't make money at the price where it is now. And so those wells are shutting down and a lot of other places that's happening to and for the older oil wells right. They need pressure from underground bringing oil. Backup and if you turn it off. In some cases it doesn't turn back on if oil. Some of that oil has to stay in the ground. Then we kind of have a scenario like Europe right where we're gasoline is just expensive by policy and in places where gasoline at tends to be more expensive greener options become much more affordable and we've seen renewable energy jobs booming. We know that climate solutions can produce jobs. Of course now. We see the oil sector jobs in kind of a bus cycle. So are we likely to see more job shocks and transitions going forward? As our energy balance changes we've seen a lot of oil jobs disappear already. I've done some reporting long distance reporting talking folks in the Permian Basin in West Texas where there had been a lot of energy jobs in those drying up pretty quickly so there are going to be winners and losers in every kind of transition for sure. The job search going to migrate to the industry's tomorrow. Marketplace correspondent Scott Tong. Thanks for sharing your perspective on climate cast today. Of Course Ball. Nice to be with you. That's climate cast. I'm NPR chief meteorologist Paul.