Sydney and other cities should be preparing now for future oil shortages, Bruce Robinson, convenor of ASPO-Australia, said.
‘Peak Oil’ is the time when global oil production will start its unavoidable decline. This may be happening now, but a more likely date is in 2012 or so (+/- 5 years).
Cities which prepare well in advance for oil shortages will have big advantages over those which ignore the risks till it is too late.
The Queensland Government is preparing an Oil Vulnerability Mitigation Strategy, one of the recommendations of its Taskforce which reported in April 2007.
Mr Robinson called on the Federal and NSW Governments to collaborate in assessing the risks oil shortages will bring. "We must start serious steps to reduce our automobile dependence before the oil shocks hit," he said.
"The Federal Government should remove FBT subsidies for car use, and the tariff concessions for big 4WDs, and start to fund public transport and bicycle facilities. We should follow Margaret Thatcher’s example, and put Australia on a fuel tax escalator to help people plan for future oil shortages, and to provide funding for hospitals and for sustainable transport. The 2020 summit must recognise that shortages from Peak Oil will have almost certainly arrived by 2020.
"NSW should call a moratorium on new freeway construction until future fuel availability is clarified and use the funds to upgrade public transport instead. Superannuation funds should conduct full oil vulnerability assessments before risking members’ money in tunnels, toll-roads and airports which will be crippled when oil shortages arrive.
"Supermarkets should offer 4c/$ discounts on groceries as an option instead of the petrol dockets, which just subsidise profligate fuel use at the expense of sustainable transport users," Mr Robinson said.
Greens state MP Lee Rhiannon said it was time Premier Morris Iemma coordinated a government response.
"Now that the CEOs of General Motors and Shell Oil and the former US defence secretary have acknowledged that it’s time to prepare for peak oil, surely the NSW premier should commit to a NSW response," Rhiannon said.
"The Iemma government is pushing a petroleum-dependent transport system onto future generations with continued investment in motorways at the expense of investment in public transport.
"Premier Iemma’s head in the sand approach on peak oil is irresponsible and dangerous … It is clear that urgent work needs to be done to protect our communities, our livelihoods and our future," she said.