Citing India, China demand, Obama calls for reducing oil appetite

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Saying demand from growing economies like India and China was likely to force gas prices up, US President Barack Obama has announced a goal to cut US reliance on foreign oil by one-third by 2025.

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“The point is the ups and downs in gas prices historically have tended to be temporary. But when you look at the long-term trends, there are going to be more ups in gas prices than downs in gas prices,” he said in a speech at Georgetown University here Wednesday.

“And that’s because you’ve got countries like India and China that are growing at a rapid clip, and as 2 billion more people start consuming more goods.”

“They want cars just like we’ve got cars; they want to use energy to make their lives a little easier just like we’ve got-it is absolutely certain that demand will go up a lot faster than supply. It’s just a fact,” Obama said.

Obama said he intended to meet his goal partly by increasing domestic oil and gas production while creating incentives for more alternative energy production and reducing consumption through greater fuel efficiency standards.

“We cannot keep going from shock when gas prices go up to trance when they go back down,” Obama said.

“The United States of America cannot afford to bet our long-term prosperity, our long-term security, on a resource that will eventually run out, and even before it runs out will get more and more expensive to extract from the ground.”

“We consume about 25 percent of the world’s oil. We only have 2 percent of the reserves. Even if we doubled US oil production, we’re still really short,” Obama said.

Later briefing reporters at the White House Energy Secretary Steven Chu also suggested that increasing demand in India and China would push up price of gas.

“I think given the long-term prospects, I think Americans realise and the world realises, given the demand in China, especially, and followed by India, that most of the automobiles being sold in the world-China is the biggest market.

“That increased demand going into the coming decades, with the finite resources we have, we’ll say, okay, this is the way the world is going to be.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])