“The world is still thirsty for fossil oil”

“Let’s stop treating the planet like a toilet!” “, prevailed Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, opening the debates of the Glasgow climate conference, COP26, this Monday 1is September. For him, it is enough to burn, dig and drill the earth for fossil fuels. “We dig our own graves”, he added.

Truth in Glasgow, reality beyond. The day before, the world’s largest oil producer, the Saudi company Aramco, confirmed its intention to significantly increase its production of black gold. It will invest $ 35 billion to increase its capacity from 12 to 13 million barrels per day. The world is still thirsty for fossil oil, and especially in these times of energy scarcity. The price of a barrel soars above 80 dollars, four times more than at the worst moments of the health crisis in spring 2020.

A well-known paradox

Champagne in Riyadh where Saudi Aramco has become again the most profitable company in the world. In the last quarter, its net profit soared to more than 30 billion dollars, or 158% of increase compared to 2020. A boon also for the Saudi State whose main resource for closing a budget in deficit is tap its beloved subsidiary, whose profits are taxed at 50% and which also receives most of the $ 75 billion in dividends paid each year by the national company to its shareholders. We understand that the Saudi monarchy, which had nationalized the company in 1980, snatching it from its American protectors, preciously keeps 98% of the capital of its company, leaving the rest to evolve quietly on the Riyadh Stock Exchange.

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This reality sends us back to a well-known paradox. The most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is for the price of fossil fuels to be high and lead economic and political actors to save money or find other solutions.

A barrel of more than 80 dollars sends an unstoppable signal throughout the economic chain, from simple heating with fuel to the manufacture of cars or toys for Christmas, including of course transport and construction. An effect equivalent to a carbon tax.

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With only one difference. In the case of the tax, the money collected can be redistributed to mitigate the cost effects on the purchasing power of households, while, in this case, it only serves to bail out the coffers of oil oligarchies. whose concerns are far removed from those which are troubling people’s minds at the moment, in Glasgow.

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“The world is still thirsty for fossil oil”