Refinery column

C’est le moment pour une taxe carbone

WASHINGTON, DC – Au cours des dernières décennies, les prix du pétrole ont largement fluctué – de 10 à 140 dollars le baril – posant un défi pour les producteurs et les consommateurs. Pour les décideurs, cependant, ces fluctuations sont l'occasion de progresser vers les ambitions mondiales clé – reflétées dans les objectifs de développement durable adoptés en septembre dernier ainsi que dans l'accord sur le climat conclu à Paris en décembre – que sont l'atténuation du changement climatique et la construction d'une économie plus durable.

Les fluctuations récentes des prix du pétrole ressemblent au modèle de la toile d'araignée classique de la théorie microéconomique. Les prix élevés stimulent une augmentation des investissements dans le pétrole. Mais, compte tenu des longs délais entre l'exploration et l'exploitation, au moment où la nouvelle capacité de production devient effectivement opérationnelle, la substitution a déjà eu lieu, et souvent la demande ne justifie plus l'offre disponible. À ce moment, les prix baissent, tout comme l'exploration et l'investissement, y compris dans les substituts au pétrole. Lorsque de nouvelles pénuries développent, les prix commencent à augmenter à nouveau, et le cycle se répète.

Le cycle se poursuivra, bien que d'autres facteurs – tels que la baisse constante des coûts de l'énergie renouvelable et l’adoption progressive de processus de production à moindre intensité énergétique – impliquent qu'il tournera probablement à des niveaux plus bas. Dans tous les cas, une augmentation des prix est inévitable.

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