A Chronicle of The Carbon War

A chronological log of events in global energy, climate change and related issues. Key events from this chronicle are distilled in the serialised front-line eye-witness account, The Winning of the Carbon War

Paris climate deal takes shape, France sets example with sweeping energy bill, oil drill ships burn cash parked at sea, UK government reneges on commitments to renewables investors: Week 29, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-30 18.35.54

Oil groups shelve $200bn in new projects as second oil-price slump hits. Wood Mackenzie reports 46 big oil and gas projects deferred. Only a handful of major projects fully approved.
US companies pledge financial and political support for UN climate deal. 13 announce new low carbon investments, and 1.6GW of new renewables to be brought online.
Hillary...

Ocean warming now unstoppable for centuries, wildfire risk soaring, Church of England votes for divestment, Shell hopes to drill in Arctic without safety kit: Week 28, 2015

Screenshot 2015-07-24 09.54.12

Chinese-built electric bus will begin service in London in autumn. Designed and built by BYD, the initial group of five will utilise high-efficiency batteries.
France seeks short, concise, but long-lasting legal core for Paris climate change deal. One is being prepared for climate ministers attending prep talks in Paris 19-21-June.... read more...

UK ends zero carbon homes and slaps retrospective cuts on renewables, UK shale-bonanza advocate “steps down”, Pope says unbridled capitalism fuels climate change: Week 27, 2015


Gas overtakes coal in US electricity generation for the first time in April. Gas is now 31%, coal 30%. There were 593 coal-fired plants in 2009, down to 518 by 2013 (303 GW).
Australian government extends renewable energy investment ban to solar. A directive already bans the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in wind.
German “vindictiveness”...

Episcopal Church votes to divest, Prince Charles divests, crucial UK fracking licence rejected, Renault may leave Formula 1 for Formula E, climate negotiations moving at “snails pace”: Week 26, 2015

Formula-e racing

List of more than 1,076 chemicals used during fracking process remains unknown. UCS says the recent EPA study was “a literature review.”
US solar and wind industries appeal for tax breaks to compete with gas. The current tax breaks expire in 2017, leading BNEF to forecast reduced investment.
Planned new coal plants mean >...

Medics say climate change threatens 50 years of advances, Dutch court forces climate action on government, American Petroleum Institute launches regulation rollback campaign: Week 25, 2015

SunnyMoney light & kids

Dalai Lama supports Popes message on climate change – at Glastonbury. Long-term fans describe his appearance as the highlight of all festivals attended.
Formula E the “right way to go” says head of world motorsport. Former Ferrari chief Jean Todt tells RTCC he’s behind new electric series, as fans turn out in thousands for London finale.
US...

Pope calls for rich to pay their debts on climate, US bishops agree with him, US Republican candidates disagree with him, US shale industry faces mass bankruptcy in face of debt mountain: Week 24, 2015

Pope Francis St Peter's Square

“The Shale Industry Could Be Swallowed By Its Own Debt”: Bloomberg. “The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing.” Debt $235 bn Q1, up as revenue fell.
UK public split on fracking. Tories & UKIP pro, Labour, LibDems & Nats mostly against. March poll: 24% in favour of extracting shale gas, 26% against... read more...

G7 agrees historic accord on fossil-fuel phase out this century, BP talks of fossil-fuel watershed, huge increase in public perception that fossil-fuel investments are risky: Week 23, 2015

FT G7 front page

Shale bust brings huge debt to drill towns. Williston owes $300 million. This comes on top of the crime wave that the boom spawned.
US conservative climate deniers launch pre-emptive attacks on the Pope. They fear mass conversion of currently climate-denier Catholics who have been core to political conservatism.
Climate-change...

The Day of The Atmosphere: eyewitness account of the last night of the Kyoto Climate Summit. How will Paris compare?

First Phase Digital

Chapter 11 of “The Carbon War”, by Jeremy Leggett (Penguin 2000)
Kyoto, Japan: November – December 1997

In the wooded hills fringing the ancient city, autumn was lingering to welcome the thousands attending the Kyoto Climate Summit. Temples centuries old vied for wintry sunlight in the roofscape as I looked across the city from my hotel to the wooded... read more...

Carbon Tracker says utilities are in coal ‘death spiral’, coal groups defiant, former Shell Chairman says fossil-fuel divestment is ‘rational’, IKEA pledges €1bn renewables investment by 2020: Week 22, 2015.

Steve Howard makes the €1bn renewables by 2020 commitment for IKEA in Bonn.

Big hopes remain for Patagonian shale despite low oil price. The Vaca Muerta holds the 2nd largest reserves of shale gas in the world after China, and the 4th largest reserves of shale oil.
African nations chide rich nations for meanness, threatening Paris, in Bonn. “We in Africa are being asked to cut emissions. OK, we say, but help us. Give... read more...

Norway tells oil fund to quit coal, EU oil giants ask for direct climate negotiations with governments, ExxonMobil CEO cries “fake” and mocks renewables, gas bridge unlikely to work: Week 21, 2015


Six oil and gas groups seek direct climate negotiations with governments. So ask BP, Shell, Total, Eni, Statoil and BG in a letter to the UNFCCC. ExxonMobil CEO says he refuses to “fake it.”
US rig count decline is effectively over. So Art Berman reports. The horizontal Bakken, Eagle Ford & Permian rigs fell by 2 this week, none last: normal fluctuation... read more...

The full Chronicle >>

Latest Presentations:

IEEE PVSC presentation: Solar PV’s pivotal role in the great global energy

IEEE PVSC presentation: Solar PV’s pivotal role in the great global energy transitionJl ieee pvscScreen Shot 2015-06-16 at 18.03.28

More Presentations >>

Leggett’s Blogs:

Huffington Post: Five ways to stop the threat to global health from climate change

Five years ago, the first Lancet Commission called climate change “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. The second report of the Commission, published on Saturday 23 May 2015, raises the stakes higher still. Read more.Screenshot 2015-07-12 20.20.46

More Blogs >>

Latest Interview:

“Most of us wouldn’t dream of giving an Oxford degree back”.

Interview on ABC Radio National Science Show with the legendary Robyn Williams. Solar, shale, kitchen sink.Robyn high res

More Interviews >>

Latest Videos:

LSE lecture

The winning of the Carbon War The talk at the book launch. View the video (goes with the LSE presentation)Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 14.38.37

More Videos >>

Jeremy Leggett

Social entrepreneur: founder of Solarcentury and SolarAid so I could act as well as talk; Chair of Carbon Tracker; climate-and-energy activist-and-historian author.

Download schedule

Latest download 3 July (Chapters 1-22, spanning May 2013 to end June 2015)
3rd August to 3rd January: monthly instalments. Last scene will be the last night of the Paris climate summit in December.

The Book in a minute

Scenes from The Winning of the Carbon War:

London School of Economics, March 1st, 2015

“Another video offers a particularly inane defence of fossil fuels. It depicts an oil barrel as a young woman, complete with pink hair ribbon, lipstick and red high-heeled red shoes, who has a boyfriend who has made the mistake of dumping her. She finds a spendid new boyfriend. The ill-advised one freezes in the dark, absent the oil barrel in his life. Is this seriously the best they can do?”
Watch youth riposte on YouTube

City of London, December 1st 2014

Many minds wired to the right love to hear this kind of thing. And find ways to believe it.
Many minds wired to the right love to hear this kind of thing. And find ways to believe it.

“Our PR agency decrees that I need some coaching in “how to talk to the Right”. I protest, but not too strenuously. One Spectator issue ran a cover headline exhorting readers to “Relax: Global Warming Is All A Myth”. I need coaching in how not to have a heart attack, if I am to be faced with stuff like that.”

Soho, London, October 30th, 2014

Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.
Richard Berman, fossil-fuel lobbyist, advocates "endless war" with opponents.

“Someone in a roomful of oil and gas industry executives has developed a conscience and leaked a tape of a presentation by a top incumbency lobbyist. In it, he tells his audience that they should regard themselves as being in a state of ‘endless war’ with environmentalists and others who oppose fracking and advocate clean-energy deployment. They cannot ‘win pretty’, he says, they will have to ‘win dirty’.”

Park Lane Intercontinental, London, October 29th, 2014

Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future
Tony Hayward & Bob Dudley: similar pasts to me, somewhat different views of the future

“BP’s retreat from renewables has been so dismal to watch. After the high hopes of the Browne years came a shameless retrenchment to carbon under Tony Hayward’s leadership, notwithstanding hardening scientific evidence on climate change. Now, under Bob Dudley – who once headed BP’s solar unit – BP is on a dedicated mission to emulate ExxonMobil’s worst.”

Parliament Square, London, October 24th and 25th, 2014

Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.
Young people anguished about the future can protest. So long as they keep off the grass.

“Modern capitalism is broken. I say this as a nominally successful capitalist. My experience has shown me that the system is suicidally dysfuntional. It is on course to destroy both itself, and more importantly the viable civilisation people of my generation have a moral duty to handover to our children and grandchildren. ….But it can be changed. It can be fixed.”

Moscow, October 14th, 2014

A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being
A gas pipeline carries Russian gas through Ukraine - for the time being

“’Let us be frank, in a comradely and hopefully constructive way’, I say with a smile. ‘Most of Europe is desperate to escape having to pay so much for Russian oil and gas exports, or even having to buy any Russian oil and gas’.”

New York, 21-26 September 21st – 26th, 2014

The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street
The NYPD find a novel way to deflate the carbon bubble on Wall Street

“I am often tempted to write ‘life, stranger than art’, in the pages of this chronicle. I can only get away with that cliché maybe once. Let it be here. The NYPD has found a way to deflate the carbon bubble. I mean the one twenty feet across, carried by protestors above their heads as they poured into Wall Street. The police popped it on one of the horns of the Merrill Lynch bull.”

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 18th, 2014

Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.
Riyadh at night. By day, no solar panel-plus-storage to be seen. Yet.

“I arrive at night, and am driven from the airport into a city lit up like a fireworks display. Six million people live here. They are burning oil in power plants to provide electricity with few constraints on waste. It is akin to shovelling their national income into a furnace, at an accelerating rate every day.”

Somewhere in London, September 15th, 2014

An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain
An EV charged by leftover solar from a fully solar-powered home in cloudy Britain

“The world’s largest private bank predicts that by 2020 it will be possible to have a solar roof, an electric vehicle and a domestic battery bank, powering everything you need in a home, with mouth-watering economics. That energy-trio purchase will be able to pay for itself within six to eight years, while giving a 7% pre-tax annual return on investment. Such household economics, UBS concludes, will change the face of the energy industry.”

Latest comments on the Winning of the Carbon War

  • Walt PattersonJeremy is a war correspondent without parallel. He brings to the fray a rare combination of technical knowhow, financial acumen and personal commitment. How he manages to cover so much terrain without losing hi...
  • Les W KuzykNeeded to read that within three days, whew, just finished. Like a review of the past 2 years in the news/twitter and yet to climax at Paris. After academic papers, I switched to truth based climate "fiction" a...
  • Sara Vicca5 hours on the train never passed so fast. I'm addicted to this book, which is greatly written and never bores. Thanks so much Jeremy for sharing your insights into what is happening behind the scenes in fossil...
  • Anthony WoolhouseWell done Jeremy. It is good that the Catholic church is getting into gear on climate change and the need to do something positive. I am a Quaker. In 2011 Quakers in the UK made a commitment to become a low car...
  • Mark Van ClieafJeremy provides a front row seat to the transformation of economies from high to low carbon energy systems and risks for investors not considering the future realities of leaving behind a 80 % Fossil Fuel globa...
  • Ken LocklinJeremy, I find your insights in Winning the Carbon War invaluable (and highly entertaining!). Thanks so much for the effort. You are truly one of the origoinal Carbon Warriors. How fitting that you should also ...
  • Ben WilliamsThanks for your hard work in creating a clean energy future for us all Jeremy. I would like to put my experience with intellectual property law at your disposal if it will help in any way; perhaps if you find t...
  • Jochen LuhmannI did understand, that you were asking for responses with a view to the final edition in 2016. Here, what me puzzled when enjoying the lecture: 1) I expected, that there were an entry as per November 2013, when...