The Australia 2020 Summit

The Australia 2020 Summit seems to be dominating the media today, and energy scarcity has managed to get at least one mention, with international relations expert Alan Dupont identifying climate change, pandemic disease, food, water and energy scarcity and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as the key issues.

One summit submission that mentions peak oil is this piece from Rod Campbell-Ross.

The future of the Australian economy

There is no separate section for submissions on oil supply vulnerability. There is thus an implicit assumption by government that there will be sufficient crude oil for our needs through 2020. This assumption is not supported by the available evidence; in fact there is a growing body of evidence that indicates a rapid appraisal of the situation is urgently required. Oil is critical to our economy - especially productivity.

Despite 10 years of increasing oil prices, (during which time oil prices have increased 10 fold) and 3 years of stagnant global oil production(1), there is very little public discussion about the security of supply of oil. Both the IEA(2) and Shell(3) have warned of a supply crunch occurring within 5-8 years. I also refer the committee to the Queensland government Oil Vulnerability Task Force led by the Queensland Government Minister for Sustainability, Mr McNamara.

Of particular concern is the fact that 3 of the 4 most important exporting countries from which Australia procures its oil are experiencing declining production (Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia). The amount of oil available for export from these countries is suffering rapid reduction through increasing domestic consumption coupled with declining oil production(4) In addition, oil available for export generally is declining. The 3 biggest oil exporters, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Norway all reduced oil exports in 2006 compared to 2005(5). The trend is set to increase in 2007.

As a wealthy country, Australia can no doubt out bid other countries for oil for a number of years. Even so, the impact of sharply higher oil prices; and possibly outright shortages, are likely to severely impact the Australian economy.

It is my view that there is a high probability that Australia, along with the rest of the world, will be suffering a major, multi-faceted energy crisis well before 2020. Therefore this issue needs sophisticated analysis and an equally sophisticated risk management response. Some sectors of the economy are particularly vulnerable:

• Food. World grain supplies are at the lowest per capita levels for over two decades(6). Oil and food are inextricably linked through production and distribution.
• Transport, especially aviation, road transport and the motor manufacturing industry are directly dependent on oil.

Policies and pro grammes are urgently needed to address this. These should be determined democratically:

1.) Commence a major programme of public dialogue and education led by government.
2.) Set up a federal oil vulnerability task force similar to that in Queensland referred to above.


1. IEA Oil Market Report, 2004-2008, Paris
2. IEA Medium Term Oil Market Report, 2007, Paris
3. Jeroen van der Veer, CEO, Shell, 2008, London,
4. The 2008,
5. 2007,
6. FAO 2008, Global cereal supply and demand brief, New York

Well, I didn't see any good ideas did you? ... and most of the ideas they did come up with were unoriginal.

There was a suggestion to set up a committee that would continuously review water, energy, pandemics and a few other security issues. I am not sure this would cover Peak Oil. Energy Security may mean security of electricity generating infrastructure.

I think there was a concious decision to "squash" discussion of PO. After all, if as Prime Minister you say "Folks, it is Peal Oil about now" what is your next sentence?

After all, if as Prime Minister you say "Folks, it is Peal Oil about now" what is your next sentence?

I think we all agree there's a fair chance that Peak Oil will be the biggest issue facing Australia (and the world) in 2020. Given that Peak Oil did not rate a mention at Kev's gabfest, how will we judge this summit in 12 years time?

It's hardly been a "Woodstock moment". My guess is that Kevin Rudd is fast presiding over a do-nothing government that talks and talks and talks and then listens, listens, listens and distills their actions down to the least inoffensive possible which delivers a whole of nothing to everyobdy. However the public will love it because they will feel "included" in the great adventure which is Australian democracy.

Very little will actually be achieved on the ground however but the big symbolic gestures will be amplified and worshipped by the mesmerised sycophants characterised by most of the academic iluminati who propse these things in the first place. Peak Oil will challenge us to ask where our next meal will come from and that is not nearly as exciting as asking where our next Picasso will come from.

My guess is that Kevin Rudd is fast presiding over a do-nothing government....

It's worse than you think. Just 1 day after the summit 2020, "Environment" Minister Peter Garrett approved a new coal export terminal at Gladstone, 24 million tons of coal extra every year.

ONE of Australia's largest coal terminals has been approved for central Queensland.,23739,23574040-3122,00.html

Instead of reporting this scandal, the Sydney Morning Herald reported:
Australia gets bigger and richer

There was smattering of the solutions spread across the various "streams". The Families stream (of all places) did discuss the necessity to closely examine the built environment and to construct cites in better ways to promote social and family support.

Similarly the productivity sector acknowledged that material resources are finite but then blew it by pronounicng that intellectual capital is unlimited.

The economy stream came up with the novel idea of creating a new beuracracy which would be charged with the task of eliminating all the previous beuracracies below it. A great example of unlimited intelelectual capital at work!

Perhaps the msot disappointing stream was the POPULATION, SUSTAINABILITY, CLIMATE CHANGE, WATER AND THE FUTURE OF OUR CITIES which managed to produce nothing but some vague ideas about how to construct the appropriate agenda. There are some vidoe links on the website which has soem quite lengthy video of the Sunday morning plenary session of this group and it is evident that a lot of particiapant were frustrated by Penny Wongs insistence on discussing the format of the report rather than getting on with achieving anything substantial. This stream received more public submissions than any other so it is very dissapointing that they produced nothing but fluff.

As to the dearth of submissions on Peak Oil, I really think that we only have ourseleves to blame if the politicians don't take this issue seriously. There is a search facility of the submissions on the website and it only returns two submssions total. One of them from Peak Oil Awareness Campaign and the other one from ACT Peak Oil. Am I missing something here or is TOD all about impressing eachother with deep intellectual insights and witty observations or are we a community of action? The 2020 summit was the perfect opportunity to act with a pretty simple submission of 500 words into a blog form. I know you all know how to do that? But I am really keen to know who did put in a submission and if you didn't, why not?

The 2020 website search facility does not search the text of submissions, only the names/titles. There are at least a dozen people I know of who made submissions including peak oil. I will go through them tonight and post the links here. maybe others could do the same.

From Annabel Crabbe liveblogging the 2020 gabfest:

Let me cheer you up with a few more tales from the Economics group. It's a McKinsey kind of operation in there; apparently when the participants arrived they all had to write one big idea on a piece of paper then walk around holding it above their heads so as to attract like-minded folk. Hilarious. Apparently Lindsay Fox was walking around with "Internodal Transport" above his head for some time.

So ... if you had to come up with a sign for the economics group, what would your "big idea" be in ten words or less?

Mine would read: TAX CARBON, NOT INCOME

Perhaps we should send Lindsay an invite to TOD!