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Climate change at the wellhead and the tailpipe

February 12, 2015

Make Wealth History

Climate change is caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, but our policies to deal with it always begin with reducing CO2. It becomes about the end product, about the gas – not the source of the gas.

It’s an observation George Marshall explores in his book Don’t Even Think About It, which I reviewed last week. He refers to the ‘wellhead’ and the ‘tailpipe’. The wellhead is the exploration and production of fossil fuels. The tailpipe is the point at which they are burned and released into the atmosphere. Marshall suggests that “the focus on tailpipe gas and disregard for wellhead fuels has been the single most important factor in all government and policy framings.”

I agree, and I suspect that prising apart emissions from their source is one of the main reasons why climate negotiations haven’t got anywhere. The scientists meet and make their plans…

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