FURTHER to Jim Taylor’s long letter (Aug 17), the actions of Just Stop Oil and their fellow travellers themselves fall into the “greenwash” category insofar as the elimination of oil production in the UK would be completely futile in delaying the onset of climate change. If the relatively small amount of hydrocarbon extraction in the UK was to be stopped, it would be replaced almost instantly by increased production elsewhere in the world. The delivery of oil and gas is determined by the demand for its products and the balance of supply and demand is regulated by the OPEC+ countries and the US, who amongst them control the market prices.

Smaller producers like Norway, Australia and the UK simply take the prices set by the big players. If one or more of these small producers with arguably better environmental credentials than the price-setting countries decides to halt production, the only thing that happens is that their production is replaced overnight and they become bigger importers. Nothing else changes because global market forces restore the balance.

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The argument that the UK exports a proportion of its oil production and so contributes to shipping pollution is also completely specious, as the oil generally ends up in a west European port such as Rotterdam, displacing oil that would otherwise have come from much further afield.

As far as gas is concerned, the UK still produces much less gas than it consumes, so any local production reduces imports and hence shipping pollution. The recent announcement of Centrica signing an agreement to buy one million tonnes per year of liquified natural gas – the most energy-inefficient form of gas transport – from the US over the next 15 years is proof of this. Until gas consumption in the UK drops to the same level as its gas production there is no logical environmental argument for reducing production.

These issues are critical to an effective definition of the so-called “just transition”.

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As I have argued previously in these pages, the only way to address the impact of hydrocarbon use on the environment is to tackle the demand side of the equation by increasing renewable energy production, building the infrastructure necessary to utilise it, investing in energy-efficiency initiatives, and developing replacements for the many plastics, pharmaceuticals and other products derived from oil and gas.

Not only do the naive antics of the more extreme climate warriors turn off more people than they enlist to their cause, but they also peddle a completely nonsensical approach to the problem that, if applied, would not work for the reasons outlined above, and even if it did work would turn the world into an energy desert with a drought of the materials our civilisation has come to take for granted.

Clearly climate change is the most pressing problem facing the world today, but the answer lies in rapid development of replacements for fossil fuels, not in the localised, piecemeal prohibition of their production.

Cameron Crawford

I WAS disappointed by the tone of Jim Taylor’s long letter on Thursday and his critique of Mikaela Loach’s recent walkout at Edinburgh International Book Festival. He wrote that those participating in that walkout “betray the lack of maturity and wisdom by climate change protesters”.

My main objections to remarks by Taylor (with whom I usually agree) concern his failure to identify any difference between a continuing but hopefully also a rapidly dwindling extraction of fossil fuels from existing installations, and an investment in the exploration and development of new fossil fuel resources. Unfortunately, we may require the first, but we should definitely be avoiding the second, and the huge profits produced by continued extraction and use should be directed towards more appropriate activities.

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Specifically We do desperately need much more investment in the following:

(1) The development of more effective means of powering transportation (in air, on land and at sea) without the use of fossil fuels, and without battery technology (particularly of aeroplanes). For example, by using hydrogen, created by “green” technologies. Batteries are too dependent upon the availability of certain rare minerals.

(2) Infrastructure for recharging or refuelling electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Fossil fuel companies should be using their existing vast profits for this purpose, and if they do not do so, the money should be taxed and used in that way by government agencies.

In the meantime, until better and cheaper methods of transportation are available, what we should definitely “switch off” (Taylor’s term), is “space tourism”. I can think of no more irresponsible use of fossil fuels than to propel passengers into space in order to give them nothing more useful than a thrilling experience – an activity which requires the dumping of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere – while at the same time a great many other people are being incinerated by wild fires, starved by droughts, drowned in floods, and so on. The people responsible for these space tourism activities would have been a more appropriate target for Jim Taylor’s critical words.

Hugh Noble