To boost global oil prices, OPEC and its oil-producing allies announced plans earlier this month to cut crude production. Countries will soon pump 2 million barrels less per day.
In the United States, the leaders on both sides of the aisle are Angry. Strong measures have been proposed – everything from revenge on Saudi Arabia To the Crude oil export baneven Reversal of environmental guarantees Some say it hinders America’s ability to increase oil production.
But what if the most powerful step we can take to mitigate high oil prices and relieve OPEC pressures has nothing to do with increasing oil supply but rather curbing demand?
The reason a relatively small decline in oil production (2 million barrels per day is just 2 percent of global oil production) can have such a big impact on prices is that so many of us feel like we have few options to reduce the amount of oil we use. After all, big changes like buying a more fuel-efficient car take time and planning. Oil producers know that for now, we’ll be paying more at the pump, so feel free to charge more.
But most of us have more options for reducing oil use than we realize. By collectively making smart choices to reduce demand, we can reduce the pain of high oil prices and control our energy destiny.
Think about what it would take to reduce your personal consumption of oils by 2%. That’s the equivalent of avoiding one in 50 car trips you take each month — or sharing that trip with a friend or family member. For most of us, this is possible.
In response to the global energy market turmoil following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has published 10-point roadmap To reduce global demand for oil. The International Energy Agency found that the 10 measures, if adopted across the world’s “advanced economies”, could cut oil use by 2.7 million barrels per day – which would offset the planned cuts by OPEC, and then some.
Most of the steps are just common sense. Using cars on one in 10 car rides and doing things essential to increasing fuel efficiency, such as maintaining proper tire pressure and reducing air conditioning use, would save 470,000 barrels of oil per day — about a quarter of OPEC’s production cuts. Allowing people who can work from home to work remotely three days a week will make up for another quarter of planned production cuts. Temporarily boosting access to public transportation, cycling, walking and “micromobility” technologies including scooters and e-bikes would offset another 15 percent of the cuts. Additional steps, such as reducing air travel, could bridge the rest of the gap.
In addition to saving money, reducing oil consumption will make our lives better in other ways — providing cleaner air, easing traffic congestion, and making our cities and towns more livable.
We all have the ability to reduce oil consumption to some extent, but we can make a bigger difference with government support. Expanding your transportation service, lowering or waiving fares, or helping people find carpool partners can help in the short term. But even a simple plea to save from our leaders can go a long way.
We already know that increased oil supplies will not eliminate our exposure to higher prices. Over the past decade, America has emerged as a world largest oil producer. The problem is that we are also the largest consumer in the world. Nearly 50 years after the first oil embargo, OPEC is still holding us above a barrel. And it will continue to do so until we find a way to make our demand for oil less insatiable.
America has the tools to respond to oil supply cuts. Smart conservation, widely adopted, can help us lower the price of oil without more drilling. Energy savings, not foreign actors, will put us back in control of our energy system. The power is in our hands.
Matt Casal He is Director of Environmental Campaigns at US PIRG, a public interest organization that speaks for a healthier and safer world, where we are freer to pursue our individual well-being and the common good..
Tony Dutzick He is the Associate Director and Chief Policy Analyst for the Frontier Group, a public policy organization that provides information and ideas for building a healthier and more sustainable America.