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Can Higher Oil Prices Curb Climate Change? Jeff Rubin Says, Yes
Economics | June 04, 2013

Can Higher Oil Prices Curb Climate Change? Jeff Rubin Says, Yes

"When you change the price of oil as dramatically as has happened over the last decade," economics speaker Jeff Rubin says in a new interview, "you don't just change the speed at which you can drive your car—you change the speed at which your economy can grow." In the segment, Rubin explores the concept he first presented in his book, The End of Growth. That is, Rubin says the rising cost of oil will eventually curb the growth of the economy. The consequence? We'll have no choice but to pursue other—sustainable—ways to power our cities. Because he says that as the price of oil skyrockets, we'll be forced to find more affordable ways to drive our cars and power our buildings. A positive repercussion of that, he adds, is that our carbon emissions will plummet because we can't power through the same amount of fossil fuels as we once did. "We're not going to be able to afford to cook ourselves," Rubin says.

Denmark, for example, has seen their carbon emissions plummet despite the fact that they get 80 per cent of their power from coal. While China uses the same percentage of coal-based power, they have experienced rising emissions. Why? Because the kilowatt-hour cost of energy in Denmark is significantly higher than in China. When we get to the point where we can no longer afford to burn as much fossil fuels as we do today, how do we cut back? Japan, for example, is a prime model for us to follow in terms of reducing energy consumption. Through small initiatives like turning off the lights, transforming elevators into staircases, and lowering air conditioning levels in office buildings, the country has been able to drastically reduce its dependence on non-sustainable energy sources. "The things that have made it successful are not the decisions taken by the ministry of finance in Japan, or the Central Bank of Japan," Rubin notes, "it's the decisions made by everyday Japanese—and there's a big lesson to be learned for that for the rest of the world."

The hopeful side of these rising fuel costs, Rubin concludes, is that the future is taken out of our hands. We don't have to be as concerned about cutting our emissions because they will reduce naturally. In his talks with David Suzuki, the unlikely pair discusses the relationship that the economy has with the environment. As an internationally renowned economist, Rubin presents the surprising, yet hopeful, opportunities that lie in the future of energy. Our world is rapidly changing, but Rubin is hopeful that the end of one opportunity will signal the beginning of another.
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