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The Energy of Nations book

The Energy of Nations

Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance

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Read the preface and first chapter.

News Release

Systemic risks of oil supply, climate shock and financial collapse threaten tomorrow’s economies and mean businesses and policy makers face huge challenges in fuelling tomorrow’s world.
Jeremy Leggett gives a personal testimony of the dangers often ignored and incompletely understood – a journey through the human mind, the institutionalization of denial, and the reasons civilizations fail. It is also an account of tantalizing hope, because mobiliizing renewables and redeploying energy funding can soften the crash of modern capitalism and set us on a road to renaissance.

“A story very well told. As far as I am aware there is no one on this planet who has a comparable all-encompassing, multi-disciplinary view and understanding of these issues to Leggett’s.”
Stephan Schmidheiny, founder, World Council for Sustainable Development

“Vivid, insightful, riveting – an eyewitness despatch from the front lines of the energy war. Official misinformation, self-delusion and denial about the true state of world oil and gas threaten us with global chaos, within the coming decade. Jeremy Leggett foresees the chaos jolting governments to cooperate at last, on sensible policies. We have to hope he’s right.”
Walt Patterson, Associate Fellow, Royal Institution for International Affairs

“It really is a terrific read – very unveiling of our human struggle between greed and legacy.”
Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director, Vantage Point Capital Partners.

“I was so captivated by it. The narrative device of running the years and the oil price gives it power and tension. The inter-weaving of account and candid diary makes one feel one has a front-row seat at the places where things almost happen.”
Adam Poole, Analyst, Buro-Happold

“I was hooked within the first few pages.”
Pamela Hartigan, Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Said Business School, University of Oxford

“The narrative flows compellingly, filmically, almost like an airport thriller.”
Mark Prain, Executive Director, Hillary Institute of International Leadership

“To understand what is going on you need to be a polymath who has worked at the highest levels on all sides. Jeremy Leggett is that person, and he provides clarity of thinking in a consistently delightful written style.”
Paul Dickinson, Chairman, Carbon Disclosure Project.

“This has to be the first real peak oil pageturner. It’s gripping stuff. Leggett may well have a future career as a writer of thrillers.”
Rob Hopkins, founder, Transition Network.

“At a time when most people view tomorrow’s energy prospects through dark lenses of coal, oil, fracked gas or even methane hydrates, Jeremy Leggett shines a brilliant light on the path towards low or zero carbon energy. Illuminating. And a joy to read.
John Elkington, cofounder of ENDS, SustainAbility and Volans.

“Brilliant–a real roadmap to the future. And a perfect reminder of why we must leave most fossil fuel safely in the ground.”
Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org

“Jeremy Leggett is one of great entrepreneurs of the emerging solar era, a man driven by his passion for the environment and for social justice in the developing world to set up a new business (and a new charity) to give expression to those ideas. ‘ The Energy of Nations’ tells it as it needs to be heard, with new – and genuinely sustainable – business models at the heart of  the transformation going on today in the global economy.”
Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

“Leggett has the great gift of making his subject – the energy sector and its impact on climate change – as readable as any good novel.”
Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network

“As Jeremy Leggett outlines in his latest book, The Energy of Nations, businesses, including ours, need to accept that climate change presents direct and substantial risks. From direct economic shocks caused by changes to the climate system, to a ‘carbon bubble’ when climate policy eventually catches up with emitters and forces them to pay for the greenhouse gases they’ve released. However ‘good’ or ‘bad’ your business may currently be – everybody has a responsibility to do something about it.”
Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

“The Energy of Nations is the key to the “next big thing” for investors and asset managers worldwide.”
Hazel Henderson, President, Ethical Markets Media

“As close to a real-time thriller as the energy sector gets. ….What makes Leggett’s take compelling is his argument that the human and technological preconditions are coming into place, as the costs of clean-tech fall, and community innovation grows on the back of internet-enabled peer-to-peer lending.”
Nick Robins, head of HSBC Climate Change Centre of Excellence.

“A fantastic book. Jeremy Leggett is one of the few who straddles peak oil, climate change, and the world of business.”
Asher Miller, Executive Director, Post Carbon Institute.

the-solar-century-coverAn account, written with colleagues at Solarcentury and SolarAid in 2009, of how solar energy can play a key role in global renaissance: how an acceleration of growth in the solar industries – and their sisters in sustainable energy – can ameliorate the climate crisis, soften the energy crisis, help rebuild the damage caused by the financial crisis, and spread much hope besides.

“An incredibly inspiring read …a compelling, exciting and inspiring case for solar as a central thrust of a renewable energy future.”

Amazon.com: readers’ reviews and ordering

Read an extract from The Solar Century – Chapter 4 – ‘Solar Tech’, how cutting edge solar technologies work and are manufactured.

Download The Solar Century cover image



My account (1997 – 2005) of the peak oil threat: how the global oil industry is overblowing both its reserves and resources assessment and its ability to deliver oil to market in a timely manner, how the growing numbers of whistleblowers in an around the oil industry are faring with their warnings about the great global energy crisis that looms as a consequence, and how peak oil conflates with climate change.

Video: Meet the author

Amazon.com: readers’ reviews and ordering

Portobello: publisher’s website

“Oil depletion is now meeting global warming …it’s scary….a mix of a textbook and a call to arms ….Few people could make the transition from geologist to oil consultant to chief scientist for Greenpeace and then to boss of Britain’s largest solar energy company ….his personal insights are fascinating ….the writing is always clear and conveys complicated but important technicalities in very accessible terms.”
Daily Mail

“Jeremy Leggett, former oil geologist and a fine writer, spells out the reality in Half Gone – and very different it is from the official blandishments from on high, in which the incompetence seems beyond belief and deception is a way of life.”

“Leggett knows what he is talking about. ….The resulting book is a fast-moving, easily readable polemic whose unashamed populism doesn’t obscure the weight of it arguments.”
Sunday Times

“His arguments are so powerfully and persuasively drawn that his statements begin to seem obvious. ….a compelling must-read for politicians, pundits and punters alike.”

“If you want one book that ….. really deals with this and attempts to explain the complications of it, I recommend it to you.”
President Bill Clinton

“Really excellent. Personal and passionate, but strong on the science and eminently reasonable. Certainly the best account of the Peak Oil debate that I have come across so far, and I really hope that it is having the impact on key people that it deserves.”
Jonathon Porritt, Commission on Sustainable Development

“Among the shelf full of books on the oil situation that have been published in the last year or so, (this) is far and away the best.”
Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute

“What makes Half Gone important is that it goes beyond the conventional clarion call about “peak oil” to consider also the other great fossil-fuel-related crisis we face – global warming. ….Despite its gloomy topic, (it) is an impressive and jaunty read and should be mandatory for politicians and planners ….a detailed, finely poised, buoyantly optimistic and ultimately plausible vision of how increased energy efficiency and renewable energy sources can lead to an ecologically viable and soft, rather than hard, landing.”
Sydney Morning Herald

“Leggett’s case is equally convincing and frightening. ….gives a fresh, keen understanding of the imminent need to alleviate our economic dependency on oil.”
Internationalist: Journal of Culture and Currents, Winter 2005 (US)

“Leggett summarizes data…. that convincingly indicate that world oil production is in irreversible decline.”
Gilbert Taylor, Booklist (US)

Book of the year: Ian Irvine, Independent-on-Sunday

Bookseller magazine votes Half Gone one of the top 50 environmental books ever (November 2009).

My account (1989-2000) of the first decade of international effort to negotiate a global climate change treaty, as I witnessed it in and around the negotiations. As far as I know, it remains the only eye-witness acount of the climate talks, and the way the fossil-fuel vested-interests (the “carbon club”) tried to derail them.


Amazon.com: readers’ reviews and ordering

“Vastly broadens our understanding. For the unscientific, this account of events from the International Panel on Climate Change set up by the United Nations in 1988, to the summit in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, is a revelation. Suddenly the apparently contradictory nature of so much we have heard and read falls into place.”
Glasgow Herald

“a page-turning story in racy prose” …“the final chapter is not only nail biting, but moves the reader to tears.”
Daily Mail

“The best book yet about the politics of global warming …essential reading.”
Sunday Times

“Racy… a powerful and highly readable book. Those who want a crash course on the nature of today’s environmental movement and the politics of the climate negotiations can be assured of an excellent, reliable read”
New Scientist

“The Carbon War is a must for anyone interested in observing how a few global oil corporations hijacked governments over the climate negotiations.”

“provides ample evidence, much of it drawn from the author’s first-hand experience, to support its assertions. Mr Leggett knows both sides of the street.”

Scenes from The Winning of the Carbon War

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.”

Online somewhere, July 10th, 2014

Some of the most strident warnings have been in the Conservative party's favourite paper
Some of the most strident warnings have been in the Conservative party's favourite paper

“A momentous article has appeared in the Telegraph. It argues that fossil fuels are the new subprime threat to the global economy ….(and that) a solar revolution is rushing up on society under the radar, the standard bearer of a transformative green industrial revolution that can no longer be avoided.” Some wag, unknown to me, has written on Twitter: “What world are we living in when the Telegraph starts sounding like Jeremy Leggett?”

No 10 Downing Street, London, July 7th, 2014

Delivering a letter from 150 companies to the UK PM
Delivering a letter from 150 companies to the UK PM

“Obama took personal charge of the pushback. ‘Science is science’, he said in an interview with the New York Times. ‘And there is no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire’.”

The Houses of Parliament, London, July 2nd, 2014

Juliet Davenport, Good Energy CEO: "solar is a fantastic technology"
Juliet Davenport, Good Energy CEO: "solar is a fantastic technology"

“A journalist from the Wall Street Journal seems impatient with all the British reserve on offer, and the morass of technical detail on subsidies that masks what is clearly the most fundamental of disputes. What is it, exactly, that you are worried about, she asks me. A repeat of 2011, I tell her. The government launched an ambush on the solar industry back then: a savage subsidy cut with only 6 weeks notice, aiming to decimate us. The gas industry was behind it.”

Mayfair, London, June 12th, 2014

Shell strands an asset on rocks en route to explore for Arctic oil
Shell strands an asset on rocks en route to explore for Arctic oil

“The whole concept (of the carbon bubble and stranded assets) is ‘fundamentally flawed’, Shell concludes. And worse, ‘there is a danger that some interest groups use it to trivialize the important societal issue of rising levels of C02 in the atmosphere’. …. I have been accused of many things by the incumbency over the years. Trivializing global warming is a first.”