Retired BP executive, one the UK’s most eminent geologists, suggests The Carbon War is over

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Dr Bryan Lovell is these days a Senior Research Fellow in Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge.  In the April 2018 issue of Petroleum Review, published by the Energy Institute, he wrote a fascinating article reviewing the state of play in the oil industry, as he sees it, regarding what I have called in my books and other writings “The Carbon War.” Bryan concludes as follows: “I suggest that the carbon war is over. In the ensuing peace, we will rely on the skills of industry to find the resources we need – and to help its customers use those resources wisely. Through our choice of investment, we will support the companies that offer us this help. Those not willing to do so can take their chances.”

While not agreeing with everything Bryan writes – in particular about the future role he sees for industrial-scale carbon capture and storage – I thoroughly recommend a read of the article.

Bryan and I have known each other for many years. We were academic geologists at different universities during my first career (Imperial College in my case, Edinburgh in his), spending many enjoyable hours discussing the rocks we were researching, including shale. He went on to BP, where as an exploration manager he spent many years looking for the carbon that is now our shared concern. I went, in contrast, to Greenpeace, as scientific director of the climate campaign. Readers will be unsurprised to hear that we didn’t agree with each other in those BP-Greenpeace years as much as we did in the “rocks” years. But when I think about how confrontational debate over high-stakes issues should best be conducted, I think of Bryan: a gentleman, a kind and witty spirit, and a colleague.

And these days  – not that it is relevant to point I have just made – Bryan and I are not so far apart in our conclusions. As he puts it in the article: “I might perhaps be expected to be in the ranks of those who have resisted the Anti-carbon Army. I’m not in those ranks, because I trust messages from the rocks.” Would that more of his ex colleagues in the oil industry could come to the same conclusion. Perhaps his article in Petroleum Review can help.

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