The US should adopt the toughest possible fuel economy standards for motor vehicles and join a global framework for managing carbon dioxide emissions.

These are the findings of a Bush administration-commissioned study of the energy industry, led by Lee Raymond, the former chairman of Exxon.

The recommendations come in a report from the National Petroleum Council, the industry advisory body to the administration, entitled “Facing the Hard Truths about Energy”.

The 21-month inquiry, chaired by Lee Raymond, the former chairman of Exxon, is the most comprehensive study of the industry for decades. The conclusion in the draft report is that “the world is not running out of energy resources, but there are accumulating risks to continuing expansion of oil and natural gas production from the conventional sources relied upon historically”. These risks, it says, “create significant challenges to meeting projected energy demand”.

The NPC report argues that to avert the threat of oil and gas supplies failing to meet demand, the US needs to act urgently and in a sustained way to improve its energy efficiency and the diversity of its energy supplies.

That includes cutting energy use in the home and industry as well as motor vehicles, and increasing the use of coal, nuclear power, biofuels and other renewables, and “unconventional” oil and gas from sources such as Canada’s oil sands.

The report also recommends “an effective global framework for carbon management incorporating all major emitters of CO2” and a US mechanism for setting an effective cost of CO2 emissions.

It’s a pity that Raymond didn’t admit the hard truths about climate when he was still at Exxon…