Gas Prices Underline that America Is at A Crossroads

Gas Prices Underline that America Is at A Crossroads

The national average for American gas prices has hit an all-time high of $4.56 per gallon, and is now at least $4 per gallon in every US state, a first for the nation. The rapid hike in prices has a lot to do with the ban on Russian imports -- including oil -- since its invasion of Ukraine. While unfortunate and frustrating, prices might just prompt real environmental change.

“The sky-high price of gasoline is a powerful incentive to use less of it -- which would mean reduced carbon emissions,” says Eugene Robinson in an opinion piece for the Washington Post. “Paying higher gas prices now will mean better lives for our children, our grandchildren, and the generations that follow.”

Why This Matters

The latest IPCC report clearly states Climate Resilient Development is already challenging at current warming levels with a narrowing window for action. It is critical to start looking to alternatives, and to do so at scale. A recent study by the World Meteorological Organization found that the world has a 50% chance of blowing past the 1.5-degree limit set by the Paris Agreement in just five years.

In his piece, Robinson wastes little time trying to convince anyone of the obvious effects of climate change. Instead, he argues that the unprovoked attack on Ukraine -- and its hit on American wallets -- offers two key opportunities for fossil fuel-reliant Americans. One is decreased use of fossil fuels and therefore emissions. The other is not increasing supply. What both have in common is focusing on decreasing the demand.

Reuters: World could see 1.5C of warming in next five years, May 10, 2022.

IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use, March 18, 2022.

Biden’s Not Giving Into Big Oil Yet

The Biden Administration recently canceled the planned sale of offshore oil and gas leases, including 1 million acres off the Alaska coast and more in the Gulf of Mexico. The Alaska project would have destroyed precious habitats and created a 20% chance for a large oil spill to occur. The rejection of this plan is a massive step in the right direction for the Administration.

Even with wind, solar, and batteries becoming better and cheaper, fossil fuels still supply 80% of global energy. There is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of the technology and improving policy, including the management of “soft costs,” such as residential permitting, to make alternatives more accessible.

Bloomberg: Record Methane Levels Made 2021 5th Hottest Year Since 2000, January 10, 2022.

CBS: Climate activists push for banks to divest from fossil fuels, January 28, 2022.

Bloomberg: Scaling Up Renewable Energy Usage, March 16, 2022.