In mid-2008 the head of the Shell media team dropped by my desk with a proposal for the company to take an early step out of the world of traditional corporate communication and into the then new and emerging world of social media. The idea was to set up a regular blog series that discussed issues pertinent to the company and its stakeholders. With climate change a central issue for society, the plan was to start on this subject. As the leading climate change person within the company, I was asked to think about topics to kick off the initiative. A few months later I was up and running with my first posts covering emissions trading, policy development and the energy transition. The opportunity was also a great fit with my role, which requires me to be something of an independent voice internally on climate change.
The blog is now heading towards a decade of posts and somewhat perversely, it has rather outlasted the initial enthusiasm for the idea. There are now some 400 posts, with several hundred thousand words of content covering almost every aspect of the climate issue. I have found that readership is quite wide, mainly through direct feedback from readers who I meet by chance at conferences and even socially.
As a chemical engineer with 37 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, my goal has always been to tackle the climate issue from an engineering perspective; based on data, built on facts and without the histrionics and emotion that have come to define this subject in many quarters. In 2014, I began work on a series of three short e-books that bought to life some of the ideas from my blog, succinctly covering many of the pertinent issues of climate change today, including carbon trading and the Paris Agreement.
Last year I was approached by Emerald Publishing who have now turned this collection of material into a complete book. The book brings together and builds on my blog and the e-books. It tells the story of the climate change issue and the transition in the energy system that must be implemented to finally address the issue. At its most ambitious, the Paris Agreement implies economic and societal change on a scale that sees carbon dioxide emissions fall rapidly from 40 billion tonnes per annum in 2016, to net-zero by the middle of the century. Yet our fossil fuel based energy system which ushered in the Industrial Revolution nearly 200 years ago continues to grow and evolve even as new sources of energy come into the market and compete.
The principal economic instrument for change is clear and has been for over two decades, but in 2017 only a fraction of the global economy actively employs government led carbon pricing policies and within that none of these systems operate at a level commensurate with the pace of change that is necessary. As deployment of new energy technologies accelerates, can solutions be found to cover the full range of services delivered by fossil fuels and can warming be limited to the agreed global goals? The book explores the climate issue from its very beginnings through to the end of end of the 21st Century and looks in depth at the transition challenge that society faces.
The book is now available from all good bookstores and direct from Emerald Publishing.
Data from the book is sourced from Shell and from the University of Oxford, IEA, NASA, NOAA and CDIAC and all proceeds of the book will go to an NGO working on climate change related issues.