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OPEC joins Bush, Gingrich, and Lomborg in climate technology strategy

Yes, OPEC is now “pledging $750 million for research into climate change technology” (while opposing a cap and trade system).

[Note to President Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Bj¸rn Lomborg — it ain’t a good sign when your climate strategy is the same as OPEC’s.]

OPEC, however, seems a tad confused on just what a technology-based strategy could do for oil:

OPEC is worried that a new international accord could cramp fast-growing Middle East economies, where oil use is rising more than 4 percent a year. And the oil cartel is concerned that a broader cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions could place heavy costs of petroleum products and reduce consumption.

While declaring its opposition to such plans, OPEC said it took climate change seriously. Saudi Arabia pledged $300 million for research, citing the potential for carbon capture-and-storage [CCS] technology. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar each promised to give $150 million.

Well, CCS might save coal, since coal is used at large-scale power plants, where separation, capture, and storage is at least plausible. But most oil is used in small, mobile platforms (cars, trucks, planes) where separation, capture, and storage of carbon dioxide is wildly implausible. So I seriously doubt whether $750 million in research, or even ten times that, could avoid the need for a dramatically reduced consumption of fossil-based oil in a carbon-constrained world.

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[Note to Reuters: Given OPEC’s Bush/Gingrich-esque opposition to a central part of the solution — a cap and trade system — you really need a better headline for this story than “OPEC summit to Back Climate Change Fight”.]