The Scotsman reported this week that business was alive to the issue of Peak Oil as it reported on the publication of “The Oil Crunch – a wake-up call for the UK economy”. The report states that the UK will be hit by an “oil crunch” within five years that will push up food prices and threaten to bring transport grinding to a halt, business leaders have warned. Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Stagecoach chief executive Brian Souter and Scottish & Southern Energy boss Ian Marchant yesterday unveiled a hard-hitting report they said should be a “wake-up call” about the imminent impact of a global oil shortage.
The report predicted shortages and price spikes in crude oil as soon as 2015, and warned it could hurl the UK into another crisis in the wake of the credit crunch.
The poorest in society were most vulnerable, according to the report, “The Oil Crunch – a wake-up call for the UK economy”.
The report said: “The credit crunch of 2008 foreshadowed major economic, political and social upheaval. It stress-tested the responses of governments, policy-makers and businesses to the extreme. If only there had been greater time to prepare for its impact and a greater level of understanding about the issues.
“The next five years will see us face another crunch – the oil crunch. This time, we do have the chance to prepare. The challenge is to use that time well.”
The report said the UK had to prepare for a world where “oil price shocks have the potential to destabilise economic, political and social activity”.
It called for urgent action, adding: “Unless we do so, we face a situation during the term of the next government where fuel price unrest could lead to shortages in consumer products and the UK’s energy security will be significantly compromised.
“This has the potential to hit UK business and commerce as well as the most disadvantaged in society with yet another crisis.”
The report was compiled by the Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security, a group of private British companies whose other members include Philip Dilley, the chairman of consultancy firm Arup.
It did recommend removing the £9 billion tax break on fuel for domestic airlines and investing the money in public transport, while also encouraging a shift away from car travel and towards electric vehicles.
Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, which campaigns for sustainable transport, agreed the implications of an oil crunch were “far more wide-ranging than the economic crisis experienced after the credit crunch”.
He highlighted that 99 per cent of transport in the UK was fuelled by oil and said: “The Grangemouth refinery oil strike in April 2008 and the oil price spike of summer 2008 demonstrated just how exposed Scottish society is to security of oil supplies.”