A Chronicle of The Carbon War

The below is a chronological log of events in global energy, climate change and related issues. Key events from this chronicle are distilled in the serialised ebook, The Winning of the Carbon War.

BoE says stranded-asset risks must be reported, Shell abandons Arctic drilling losing $7bn, Pope woos US on climate, China announces cap-and-trade plan during US visit: Week 38, 2015

Screenshot 2015-10-05 09.40.15

BoE Governor tells BBC climate change is the biggest issue for the future. And on stranded assets, Mark Carney says, investors must be given the data to “invest accordingly”.
Carney: proposals will probably be put to the G20 meeting in Turkey in November. They will urge tougher corporate disclosure standards on climate change risks.... read more...

Massive VW emissions fraud, BHP warns coal is losing as Abbott goes, shale drillers face financial crisis, 2015 global heat record, 48 of top global 100 companies still oppose climate action: Week 37, 2015

Auto emissions

85% of British power can be renewable by 2030: Greenpeace. A report expects wind energy to rise from 13GW to 77GW, with solar rising from 5GW to 28GW.
Carbon storage will be expensive at best. At worst, it may not work”: Economist. The 3 real projects each dump a million tonnes CO2 a year. US electricity alone would need 1,500 sites.... read more...

Hollande warns Paris failure would mean millions of refugees, cheap oil slams brakes on US shale oil production, UK backs bid in EU to kill fracking controls, Shell quits climate leaders group: Week 36, 2015

Refugees on Hungarian motorway Sept '15

Fast pace of power plant closures threatens UK electricity grid”: FT. Energy experts warn of a “breaking point within months”. Jefferies: 53 GW of capacity 2015-16, 56 GW peak demand.
SolarCity signs world’s first dispatchable PPA in Hawaii. The agreement with Kaua’I Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is for 20 yrs, 52MWh, to feed... read more...

“Coal is fast becoming the telegraph to renewable energy’s Internet”, say activists as stock tank hits 98% since 2011. No, says Minerals Council of Australia ad campaign – “coal is amazing”: Week 35, 2015

Screenshot 2015-09-17 10.05.04

Panasonic criticises ‘damaging’ UK cuts to solar panel subsidies. “Do not push the bird out of the nest before it can fly”, says UK boss.
Minerals Council of Australia TV ad labelled “ludicrous” and “desperate”. The ad insists that “coal is amazing.”
The Elders urge world leaders to step...

World’s biggest coal port divests, oil industry woes leave Wall Street adrift, tanking China trigger global share rout, UK government intends to cut solar feed-in tariff 87% in January: Week 34, 2015

Coal train

Eni discovers ‘supergiant’ gasfield off Egypt. The Zour field holds a possible 30tn cubic feet of gas, or 5.5bn barrels of oil equivalent (boe), in 1,450 metres of water.
“For OPEC, This Year’s Painful Oil Slump Will Bring Gains in 2016”: Bloomberg. IEA says production will contract outside OPEC, and emand... read more...

Methane leaks far exceed estimates, US oil < $30, Islamic leaders join Pope in calling for carbon-fuel phaseout, solar cheaper than gas in Colorado, UK opens 1,000 sq miles to frackers: Week 33, 2015

Islamic leaders

US oil price slides below $30 for first time since financial crisis. Brent falls to $45. The US rig count rises 2%. The industry remains what analysts label “resilient”.
SunEdison beats gas in Colorado. For the first time, PPC receives bids for utility-scale solar PV resources that are cost-effective head to head with natural-gas fired generation.... read more...

Largest ever US wildfire rages, coal protestors say “here and no further”, Glencore’s investors say “stop digging”, oil glut pumps on, solar stocks suffer, Shell ready to drill in the Arctic: Week 32, 2015

Lignite civil disobedience

“Glencore’s investors want it to stop digging.” Shares down two-thirds since May 2011 float, debt mountain at $48bn.
Firefighters struggle to contain largest ever US wildfire. Spanning more than a quarter of a billion acres, the Idaho fire has been fed by drought.
1,500 people put their bodies on line to stop the diggers... read more...

Global glacier retreat accelerates, value of oil companies down >$1 trillion, Obama backs off shale gas in climate plan, UK now prepared to over-ride councils and push through fracking: Week 31, 2015

Screenshot 2015-08-13 21.31.56

“Our country needs shale gas, so let’s go get it.” So writes Amber Rudd. “A responsible, long-term energy policy demands a willingness to take decisions today for the good of tomorrow.”
Energy industry attacks £24.5bn Hinkley Point. “We will look back and think that nuclear was a expensive mistake,” RWE npower CEO says. An HSBC report rips into... read more...

Global warming now >1˚C, Obama hikes power-sector carbon cuts, World Bank rejects coal industry notion that coal can cure poverty, US offshore wind puts its first steel in the water: Week 30, 2015

US offshore wind - first

Obama imposes most far-reaching carbon restrictions on power sector yet. 32% power sector cuts by 2030, encouraging bypass of gas, favouring renewables. Legal pushback expected.
“With coal going begging, it’s time to stop digging.” So writes Michael West in the SMH. The two big projects of Chinese... read more...

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...

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 transitionScreen Shot 2015-06-16 at 18.03.28

More Presentations >>

Leggett’s Blogs:

Guardian: “Business should be backing renewables – fossil fuels don’t make economic sense”

The Conservative leadership once advocated powering 21st-century Britain with a green industrial revolution based on the smart, internet-linked, decentralised technologies being invested in by Silicon Valley, China, and others. Now, unified in majority government, they seem intent on the reverse: exploitingScreenshot 2015-10-06 18.46.13

More Blogs >>

Latest Interview:

“They’re trying to defend 20th century technologies and business models that are ruinous for the planetary future.”

BBC Today interview, on Shell’s retreat from the Arctic and its implications.Screenshot 2015-10-04 12.58.24

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.

Schedule for episode downloads

Latest download 5 October (Chapters 1-26, spanning May 2013 to end September 2015)
3rd November to 3rd January: monthly instalments. Last scene will be the last night of the Paris climate summit in December. Then a conclusion chapter about next phase of the carbon war.

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...