Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Kyoto Cuts Oil Production?
Today's FT reports a remarkable and very tangible potential outcome of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Several EU members, including the UK, have introduced either carbon taxes or "cap-and-trade" mechanisms to force specific emissions reductions by industry. Apparently, as applied to the UK oil industry, they could have the effect of raising production costs on oil platforms in the North Sea and driving older, less prolific platforms into early retirement.

What's remarkable about this story is not that North Sea production might fall off faster than anticipated, for reasons other than geology. Rather it's an illustration of just how seriously the EU and many of its member countries take greenhouse gases. If they are willing to hobble an area that has been a crown jewel of the UK's economy for 20 years, what is to say that Kyoto won't become the next big trade issue between the US and EU?

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