A decarbonised future?

Elliot Coad, Co-Founder of Offset Earth recently asked me(*) to answer the following questions (kind of a personality test for someone that has worked for over twenty-five years in the energy industry):

  • What’s your current view on climate change?
  • How urgent you think it is?
  • Thoughts on the fossil fuel industry and the decarbonization of our global economy?

My current views on climate change

I will start by stating that I genuinely believe in being impact first and strive to be 100% impact-focused.

I am certainly not a climate denier. I don’t have a scientific background, but I am convinced that climate change is not a hoax and that its detrimental effects will particularly impact those less capable of mitigating the adverse consequences or adapting.

In a professional capacity, I have been working on topics related to the mitigation of climate change, such as commercial-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects, since 2008. In 2010 I started a blog to track climate-change legislation enacted in Latin America (I abandoned it after years of waiting for the enactment of such legislation). Around that time, I started switching my investment portfolio to impact investing, with a partial focus on clean energies.

I am a rational optimist, and trust that climate change may be managed (rather than solved). I don’t think that we will end up in a SevenEves situation (read the book, I will not spoil it for you). Still, we have to be increasingly careful, particularly with space debris.

Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

‘Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’ is Goal 13 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It concerns EVERYONE.

The time to act was years ago. Nevertheless, technological advances have to catch up with cultural changes, and vice versa. Climate change is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I am particularly concerned about the passengers in the front rows, Vanuatu, and similar situations.

The fossil fuel industry and the de-carbonization of our global economy

The fossil fuels industry will not follow the route of the dinosaurs unless a regulatory or huge litigation meteorite suddenly impacts it. With different speeds, businesses based on the exploitation and transformation of hydrocarbons, are adapting to the new world. They all seem to be very conscious that large volumes of discovered oil and gas may remain in the ground forever. The vast majority of oil and gas companies took write-downs on their reserves and are looking to position themselves as energy providers in the broad sense of the term.

I am still more skeptical concerning the reaction of governments (particularly those rich in hydrocarbons). Last, we should all acknowledge that there are still billions of persons without access to energy, who, on top of that, may become the victims of climate change externalities. We can not only rely on governments or the incumbents to provide solutions to climate change. Instead, I would place my bets on a solution based on funding impact startups focused on addressing climate change issues.

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition, and myth frame our response.”

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

(*) These are my personal views and do not represent the position or views of anybody else.

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