9 Nov 2005
Rimini Protocol – Sidelined but Still Useful…
So our good friend Colin Campbell went to the conference in Rimini in Italy with the Oil DeplepletionProtocol he has been working on for a good while now, which you can read here, having been led to believe that the event was in part organised around launching the Protocol, only to find that the event had been steered away from it, and he didn’t even get to speak in the main plenary session. You can read Jeremy Leggett’s article about the conference and its disappointing outcome here
The Rimini Protocol would basically commit all signatories to reducing the demand level for oil in their countries to follow the same diminishing curve as oil availability. As Colin sets out, it is basic good business practice for the oil industry and represents common sense. Of course, common sense doesn’t really come into it when politics are around, and oil is one area more than most where politics rule the roost. Strikes me that we need to be realistic to the fact that, like with climate change and the Kyoto agreement, the powers that be tend to act too late and do too little. The time for the Rimini Protocol is now, not in 10 years. As Colin points out in other articles, the rate of depletion will be steeper and more rapid the longer consumption continues at the present rate.
I don’t see the Depletion Protocol model as dead in the water though. Hopefully it might get ratified at some point, but we can’t really hold our breath. I see its value as coming from the other direction, from the grassroots up, through the model of Energy Descent Action Plans, which design themselves around the Protocol’s depletion rates. A town such as, say, Totnes, could design its Action Plan so that each year it has a method of checking whether it has reduced its fossil fuel use by the required 2-3%. The Plan would be designed with this in mind, and would set its targets accordingly. By rolling out this approach across the country from the grassroots up we can breathe life into the Depletion Protocol in a way which is working with real people in real communities. Campbell has given use a key tool, and even if the powers that be in the oil industry fail to see its worth, those of us working in this area must sieze it as offering a clear template against which to judge the success or failure of our actions. I understand that Richard Heinberg is writing a book about the Protocol, so I’ll keep you posted on that.