Is oil close to becoming obsolete?

While the US federal government will not seek formal support for the limiting of carbon emissions and drilling of oil, evidence shows that the petroleum industry may already be going the way of the dodo.

Statista created the chart below using data from a report published by OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). According to OPEC, the number of passenger cars in the world will nearly double their current rates by the year 2040. Consider first that in 2016, there was an estimated 1.1 billion cars on earth, which means that in the span of just two and half decades, this will rise to over 2 billion cars. The demand lies primarily with Asian countries, namely China, whose middle class is rising ever higher.

While that demand in cars seems extreme, think about the oil needed to fuel twice as many cars in 24 years. The oil demand simply will not be able to keep up with supply and (someday) will run out. More interesting is that demand for oil won’t keep up speed with the demand for autos anyway. Despite a small increase in the demand for oil projected through 2025, the number of barrels needed to fuel all of the world’s cars is due to decline each year, all the way to the year 2040.

Despite the fact that OPEC countries forecast to have 46 million more cars by 2040, oil demand for these cars is expected to decline by 4.8 million barrels per day. By contrast, countries that are still developing will see demand rise by 6.5 million barrels per day.

The vital importance that oil has played for our personal mobility and driving just about all technologies in our world, is slowly becoming obsolete. Increased fuel efficiency of modern cars will play a part in driving down demand, as will the increasing penetration of alternative fuels for cars in the long term which will ultimately decide the fate of oil.

Should you be investing in oil companies for the long-run? The point here is no. Despite what grand ambitions politicians possess to turn the US back to its former industrialized glory, this is just not the way of the future. Those countries who plan for the future, will adapt and survive earlier than those who fall behind. You must ask yourselves: what kind of world will we be living in 30 years from now given how a century ago we barely had cars, now there’s a smartphone for just about every person on earth.

Think about socially responsible investing as a way to rid your portfolio of carbon emissions, and the world as well. Your retirement savings will thank you.