Drillers Under Pressure as Low Prices, Broad Uncertainties Put Oil & Gas Industry's Financial Prospects 'In Limbo'

At a climate change conference in Paris last week, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, had a blunt message for energy companies.

“We see some moves from energy companies in the direction of sustainable development. However, it is not at the level you would like to see,” Mr. Birol, who will be promoted to chief of the IEA in September, told those assembled. “If they think that their businesses are immune to the impacts of climate policy, they are making a strategic mistake.”

Other experts sound a similar note, calling for changes so fast and sweeping that they would be like an “induced implosion.”

Does economists’ change of tune herald turning point on climate change?

The most interesting aspect of the 1,700 prominent signatories urging U.S. politicians to make immediate, deep reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions is that so many of them are economists.

Predictably, the statement by the Union of Concerned Scientists, issued on the eve of U.S. Senate debate on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, affirms the long-standing scientific evidence for global warming.

But what was unusual, and surprising, was the prominent role of economists as measured by the statement that acting quickly to cut emissions “would be the most cost-effective way to limit climate change.”

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