Energy transition will not happen overnight: Biden
US president Joe Biden said October 31 that it is “just not rational” to assume the global economy can switch from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy with any sort of immediacy.
Biden spoke to members of the international media in Italy ahead of his trip to Glasgow for the COP26 environmental summit. The US president since taking office has leaned hard on an environmental agenda, scrapping permits for oil pipelines while advancing leases for offshore wind.
But with energy-related inflation threatening to undermine economic growth, the president has made repeated calls to OPEC to produce more oil to bring down prices.
Soaring natural gas prices, meanwhile, have pushed some segments of the economy to switch to crude oil or coal as a cost-saving measure, creating even more competition for oil in an under-supplied market.
That in turn stimulates the price of oil even further, and oil is already trading at seven-year highs. Biden defended his seemingly dual position by saying the energy transition may be more of a marathon than a sprint.
“Well, on the surface, it seems like an irony,” he said. “But the truth of the matter is that the idea we’re going to be able to move to renewable energy overnight and … not use oil or not use gas or not use hydrogen is just not rational.”
While hydrogen is a clean fuel, some of the processes used to produce it rely on natural gas and depend on supplementary carbon capture and storage technology to realise the full environmental benefit.
Biden added that it will take time to reach broad-based climate goals, many of which set the end of the decade as a benchmark. But by 2050, he said, the US economy will be a net-zero one.