China itself has been hit-and-miss about taking action to work on improving its own emissions profile, or even attending global meetings to discuss such commitments and any progress they are making towards them. With roughly 2.8 billion in population between the two Asian nations, a scenario like Wood-Mac’s AET-2, envisioning a net-zero world just 29 years hence seems highly unlikely, regardless of how many trillions of dollars the Biden/Harris administration and congress choose to borrow in order to target the issue here in the United States.

For the U.S. oil and gas industry, all of this is completely relevant and must be factored into their planning and reporting activities. Independent producers must consider whether to develop their own “net-zero by 2050” commitments, following the lead of some of the larger international companies. They must also consider what to tell investors and the SEC about the likelihood of their long-term reserves ever being produced and sold in a climate-change-focused world, especially when so much of that focus seems to be little more than organized virtue-signaling that is not really grounded in practical reality.

For oil and natural gas producers in the U.S. and elsewhere, the practical reality seems to be that, until India, China and the rest of the world’s developing nations decide that committing to such goals can be reconciled with their needs for continued economic growth, demand for oil and natural gas production is likely to continue to be very robust for decades to come.

Balancing that practical reality with the continually rising demands from ESG-focused investors and end-users that I discussed last week is a real challenge. Remaining profitable in the face of aggressive efforts by the federal government to increase their costs and subsidize their competition could become an even bigger one.

Today’s oil and gas producers truly do “live in interesting times.” But on balance, even the Wood Mackenzie report shows that there is far more cause for optimism than the prevailing narrative about the industry’s future would lead us to believe.