The UK will run out of its own gas, coal, and oil within the next five years, according to a report released by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. And France, which continues to rely heavily on nuclear energy, could run out of its remaining fossils fuels within the next year, reports the BBC. This means that the two countries could soon become completely reliant on global fossil fuel suppliers such as Russia, Norway, and Qatar.
the UK has 4.5 years of coal left
The report, which outlines worldwide fossil fuel vulnerabilities, paints a varying picture of Europe's natural resources. Given the UK's current rate of fossil fuel consumption and its current known reserves, the country is said to have 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal, and three years of gas left. In contrast, Germany — a country that's willing to bulldoze a village to get at its coal reserves — has 250 years of coal left. And Russia, the report says, has more than 500 years of coal at its disposal.
"Much of the discussion about ‘Peak Oil' overlooks the fact that oil is unevenly distributed globally," the researchers write in the report. They note that Kuwait has more than 700 years of oil left, but countries like Japan have very little, which means they are highly vulnerable to market fluctuations. Overall, however, "the clearest conclusion to be drawn is the vulnerability of Europe," the researchers write, because current oil reserves and consumption rates indicate that the region has the lowest number of years left.
"oil is unevenly distributed globally"
The report wasn't well received by some energy specialists. Jim Skea, a sustainable energy expert at Imperial College London, told the BBC that some of the findings "seemed unlikely." And even if the numbers are accurate, they are largely "irrelevant," he said, given the UK's current stable supply of imported energy.
But Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute, told the BBC that "the EU is becoming ever more reliant on our resource-rich neighbours," and that this dependency will only become more prevalent "unless decisive action is taken." A greater push toward the development of wind and solar energy would go a long way, Jones suggests. Unfortunately, the UK really doesn't seem poised for such a move; just last month, the government announced cuts in solar farm subsidies.