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Monday, 2 January 2017

An optimist’s view of 2017

An optimist’s view of 2017:
"The downbeat mood of the times was confirmed before Christmas by the publication of the Bloomberg Pessimist’s Guide to 2017. The guide lists some of the things that could go badly wrong across the world in 2017. Last year the Guide predicted both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election as US president. This year the possibilities range from the collapse of the Mexican economy after Mr Trump pulls the US out of Nafta to the election of Marine Le Pen as the next president of France. Some of the predictions, such as California’s decision to declare independence from the US (Calexit), to the forced departure of the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could be seen as ambivalent outcomes that many would welcome. Pessimism, however, has its limits and so here, are a few notes of hope for the New Year. As ever, I have focused on the core issues of energy but politics are never far away. Some of the possibilities listed seem to me highly likely to occur to one degree or another. Others are long shots – but then Donald Trump was a long shot a year ago.

1. A relatively peaceful revolution will overthrow the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Recovery will take time but will begin with the reconstitution of the state oil company PDVSA and the renewal of international investment. The new regime will annoy the Chinese by declaring that the deals made between the two countries over the last decade are invalid and will have to be reopened, allowing all-comers to participate in a new tender process.

2. The number of electric vehicles in use worldwide will begin to rise dramatically. From 600,000 in 2016 the number of new vehicles licensed will increase to over 1m in 2017 marking the beginning of a growth that will be compared to the growth in computers and mobile phones in the 1990s. Six of the world’s great cities, including London, Berlin and Beijing, will introduce a mixture of congestion and emissions charges which make electric vehicles the only rational choice for motorists. A new parking charge for vehicles with internal combustion engines will fund a network of charging points in the cities and beyond.

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