It’s worth repeating in this summer when the effects of the climate crisis feel like they’re intensifying, with wildfires in California, a drought in the American West and an intense heat wave in Europe.
Looking for more oil in Africa. Rather than cut down on oil production, the world seems to be going in the opposite direction. As The New York Times reported on Sunday, the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to rainforests and peatlands that help control climate change, is now trying to market itself as a new destination for oil investments by auctioning land for drilling.
That report followed CNN’s in-depth look last year at the Canadian company ReconAfrica’s effort to develop what is thought to be a massive oil field with potentially 12 billion barrels of oil in Namibia.

CNN’s David McKenzie and Ingrid Formanek pointed out the painful irony: Namibia, which does not currently have a meaningful oil and gas industry like some neighboring countries, is feeling the harsh effects of climate change. It’s warming faster than other parts of the planet, which is jeopardizing its farming industry.

A fairer share. Namibia, Botswana and Congo rightly want to reap the same benefits from their land that Western countries used to become wealthy.

“Someone who is sitting in Norway and has a very good quality of life because of the oil that was found in the North Sea is now telling the world that it should run on renewables,” Niall Kramer, a South African oil industry consultant and former oil executive, said in CNN’s report last year. “If you are sitting in Africa, your incentives are very different.”

The Times identifies a similar sentiment in Congo: The auction highlights a double standard that many political leaders across the African continent have called out: How can Western countries, which built their prosperity on fossil fuels that emit poisonous, planet-warming fumes, demand that Africa forgo their reserves of coal, oil and gas in order to protect everyone else?

Congo’s top climate official, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, told the Times the country is focused on bringing Congolese out of poverty.

“Our priority is not to save the planet,” he said. He wants Congo to be compensated, either by more developed countries for protecting its rainforests and peatland, or by oil companies.

Still hooked. That the world’s oil addiction is far from over is frustratingly clear.

Demand for oil is continuing to increase, not decrease, as countries emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Interruptions to Russia’s supply of oil and gas to Europe — likely as a form of retaliation for sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine — could realistically drive Germany into its own recession.

As for Biden, his political future is still very much tied to people’s perception of the economy, which in turn is tied partially to gas prices.

Lower gas prices hailed as good news. That gas prices, while still high, have been dropping is a fact the White House has clung to as it’s argued the economy is better than people think.

“In fact, the typical driver is now going to spend about $35 less per month because of the recent decline in gas prices,” Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNN’s Victor Blackwell on Monday.

RELATED: Biden downplays worries over economic downturn
The administration has pushed US oil companies and foreign countries to ramp up production, and it is fighting environmental groups to lease new lands for oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico and Wyoming.

The bad news about Biden’s climate agenda. It’s stuck in Congress, where West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin argues Americans can’t afford more spending — at least not right now — to transition the country away from an oil-based economy. Manchin disregards the cost of doing nothing.

Meanwhile, people don’t think the economy is very good: 64% of Americans feel the economy is currently in a recession, according to a recent CNN poll.

As White House officials and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will tell you, that perception is wrong. It’s an eight-member committee at the National Bureau of Economic Research, which is not a government agency, that officially declares recessions.

And even if gross domestic product data expected this week shows a second straight quarter of negative growth, the NBER committee might not immediately declare a recession. Read our previous look at how the committee calls recessions.

Current US officials and their counterparts around the world do agree the climate crisis is occurring. They also seem to be unified in recognizing the political reality that voters like cheaper energy.

 

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