The Winning of The Carbon War

Humanity is in a race, a kind of civil war.
In “The Winning of The Carbon War” Jeremy Leggett documents the political battles being fought on the front lines of climate and clean energy policy.
This unique, first hand diary covering events from 2013 to the present day, reveals how the tide is turning against “big energy” and how humanity might just win The Carbon War.

Download the full ebook for FREE


All profits from the sale of the print book go directly to SolarAid helping to distribute solar lights to rural communities in Africa.

Comments on The Winning of The Carbon War:


“This is one of the first books on climate change that I truly could not put down. A brilliant page turner, alternately daringly funny, coldly sobering, starkly terrifying. A deeply rewarding look into the most significant problem we face today – poetic, personal, beautiful and intensely urgent. If you want to understand why fossil fuels may not just tank the environment but might also bring down the world economy, read this book, and – for all of our sakes – read it fast.”


“Leggett has a unique vantage point that he shares frankly, openly and with candid humor and humility. I don’t tend to gush about books on climate politics, but I can’t recommend this resource highly enough. I’ve been eagerly reading what actually comes across as a thriller ….and can’t even begin to list all the insights gleaned so far.”


“Given how vital developments in energy and climate will be for the future global economy, a front-line chronicle of events as they unfold in the make-or-break year ahead promises to be fascinating. With a past in oil and gas, a present in solar and finance, and two decades of climate campaigning along the way, we can rely on Jeremy Leggett to provide an interesting and insightful perspective.


“Jeremy’s clear and penetrating eye-witness account of the Paris climate summit captures beautifully the story both of the historic agreement reached and of the understandings on which it is based.  It is great fun to read; kind, tough, and often very funny.”


If you are interested in @COP21 and are not reading Winning the Carbon War by @JeremyLeggett you should be


“In all my years as an energy analyst in investment banking, I have rarely encountered an entrepreneur with the factual grounding Jeremy Leggett has across the full spectrum of the energy and climate space.  From his beginnings in the oil industry to his leadership in campaigning for new clean, green energy, he has a vital message that deserves as wide an audience as possible.  We see the signs of what he has predicted beginning to unfurl around us with severe ramifications for the future of the oil industry and fossil fuels.”


A cracking yarn, magnificently conceived and thrillingly executed.


“Jeremy Leggett has been right about climate change longer than just about anyone, and he’s consistently thought of innovative ways to get the message across–here’s one more powerful medium for helping spread the most important message ever.”


“One of the crucial themes in Jeremy Leggett’s narrative is shale, on both sides of the Atlantic. As a long-time opponent of fracking, it is fascinating for me to read Jeremy¹s perspectives, particularly given his past life in the oil industry where he has researched shale funded by both BP and Shell – and his current generous sharing of his expertise with British parliamentarians of all political parties.”


“It’s a masterpiece, probably the most important book written on the greatest issue of our time since An Inconvenient Truth. It grips the reader like a mystery thriller, yet it is filled with facts and history and people and players. No academic writer or professional journalist can ever match what Leggett has done done. The last thing I would ever want to read, or take to the beach, is a book on climate change, global warming or decarbonization of the global economy. Yuk. But I couldn’t put this one down. The epilogue is especially good, celebrating what can happen when people and nations come together for the common good.”

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40 comments on “The Winning of The Carbon War
  1. Roger Booth says:

    What a tour de force! It felt as if I was with you on the journey!
    As a Shell pensioner with, hopefully, many more years of retirement I would like to suggest to the Trustees of the various Shell Pension Funds that they read your book and then consider what investment strategy is in the best medium and long-term interest of both their current and future pensioners. The scientific, economic and political evidence has already convinced many organisations and pension funds, notably the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, that they should divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest the funds in the technology companies developing business models and products for our sustainable future.
    Roger Booth

  2. Jonathan S says:

    Looking forward to the finale. I read your book in 2015 and found it inspirational. I’ve now decided to make the transition from Geoscientist at an Oil and Gas Major to solar, and am currently working towards a Masters in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Systems specialising in Solar.

  3. Andrew Warren says:

    I have just finished reading Winning of the Carbon War, (cover-to-cover – all 351 pages of it), which I have done in just the one sitting today (Friday 15). And felt immediately prompted, quite simply, to write to congratulate you so wholeheartedly on this truly magnum opus.

    It contains so many conversations/ references to those I have known across the years, ever since I attended the Second World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1990. With Chirac, Arap Moi and Thatcher making – unknowingly – her last appearance on an overseas stage.

    In your book I relished the number of soundbites and factoids previously unknown to me – to be found on pages 66, 68,102,137,159,161-2, 194.195,207,221,243, 252,282 and 283 to be precise. I intend to exploit these mercilessly.

    Inevitably I would be remiss in not expressing my disappointment that, as ever, ( I recall the absence of insulation in the original Solar Century loft!) you chose just about to ignore the pivotal role that using energy more efficiently plays in any logical scenario.

    You just once reference the Rocky Mountain Insitute. And on p243, you do include that “energy efficiency accounts for more emissions reductions than renewables, although you would never guess this from so much of what is written about energy”.

    Er, quite so.

    But that is it. So, in a sprit of sharing your astonishment that the UK government seems to be regressing so stupidly ever since May, let me leave you with a factoid of my own: over the past 50 years, UK GDP has increased by 270%,whilst UK energy consumption has decreased from 196.8 to 187.9 mtoe. And since 2005, overall energy use has fallen by 18%.

    Your book is a great achievement, you should be very proud.

  4. Neil Dobson says:

    The book has inspired and thrilled me. That you could find time to write and publish a book like this, for free with the schedule and pressures you have is a testament to your commitment to the cause. Keep up the good fight, the list of people following and backing you grows by the day.

  5. This is a classic, must-read, real-time, insider’s view.

  6. I read up to chapter 11 yesterday evening, and am sending the link to the website to my daughter Linda Heesterman to read on the flight to Guyana where she and her husband work as exploration geologists (NOT oil!)- it might keep them awake!. They will enjoy it! I am also going to print it off for a 94 year old friend, who doesn’t use the Internet,but is very keen on knowing what goes on in the world and will the members of her synagogue know about it; there is also ‘A Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis’ as well as the Lambeth Declaration by faith leaders; its signatories call on faith communities to recognise the pressing need to make the transition to a low carbon economy. Undoubtedly the members of Scientists for Global Responsibility will be most interested as well. Thank you Jeremy – we enjoyed the talk at the Eco Hob last week.

  7. Jeremy 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 his way or his balance I cannot imagine. He reports from demos and boardrooms alike with clarity, vitality and vision. His rivetting despatches from the front line give me back a hope I thought I’d lost. We may yet win this.

  8. Les W Kuzyk says:

    Needed 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” as an information medium. Short stories and novel get attention ahead of facts and numbers it turns out.

  9. Sara Vicca says:

    5 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 fuel and renewable industries and in politics, and for your passionate fight against climate change. Your book gives hope for a better future in these times that the consequences of climate change are becoming clearer to more and more people. Fingers crossed that political will is following soon now..

  10. Well 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 carbon sustainable community. It is called the Canterbury Commitment as it was made during the annual national meeting of Quakers in the UK at Canterbury.

    This decision gave me the confidence to develop the 2.4MW West Solent Solar Cooperative as a community energy project. We connected to the grid last June and it has worked really well.

  11. Mark Van Clieaf says:

    Jeremy 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 global energy system towards cleaner energy alternatives.

    If you add Nicholas Sterns book ” Why are we Waiting ” and his recent analysis about the commitment gap to get to 2C and George Marshalls book “Don’t Even Think About It: why are brains are wired to ignore climate change” – together these three authors provide an integrated view of why we MUST make the change to lower carbon economic development around the world, the need for R&D and investment for cleaner energy technologies, and that it is possible to create a cleaner energy industrial revolution that benefits shareholders, future generations and humanity.

    what is key is to build momentum in the institutional investor community, corporate community, key governments and cities, and on the ground citizen about why this really is important to energy, water, health, economic security and the changes we can ALL undertake to make this transformation a reality now – not in 10 to 30 years from.

    Sharing Jeremy’s book with others is part of this change process.

    I look forward to the next chapters – it is like being in the room as this transformation unfolds in real time!

  12. Ken Locklin says:

    Jeremy, 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 be the chronicler, literally posting dispatches from the frontlines.

    After these many years of carbon combat, we find ourselves indeed in the midst of heightened drama. Clearly we have moved past the “ignoring” and “laughing at” stages to the “fighting” one! But we all know what comes next…

    Congrats on this terrific saga – keep up the good work!

  13. Ben Williams says:

    Thanks 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 that IP rights are interfering with your work.

  14. Jochen Luhmann says:

    I 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 OPEC, essentially Saudi Arabia, decided not to decrease production – which resulted in, as to be expected, a decrease in global oil prices as well as in many stranded fracking assets, at least in a stop of reinvestments for drilling, especially in the USA. Will you really send the message, that even you, with your roots in the oil as well as the financial industry, at the time being did overlook the importance of this event?

    2) There is, as far as I see, an ambiguity in the meaning of “a company’s oil reserves at risk”. As far as I understand the balance sheet regulations, the oil reserves themselves are not an asset of the company. So, what is meant, is probably, that all the investment already done for becoming oil reserves which the company can access is (only) the capital amount at risk – which is a much smaller amount of money than the value of the oil which has to be left in the ground.

    (Given the most recent conflicts in Germany, one can precisely see, that the regional governments do see themselves as the central stakeholders/owners of lignite mines and gas fields. In the case of Vattenfall, the value of Vattenfall’s european subsidiary, which is now made ready to be sold, is depending on the political decision, if there is a reasonable future for lignite power plants in Germany.)

    But, be assured: Your book is absolutely worth reading – there is no academic, who is able to present what you, with your very personal biography, brings together.

  15. Dan Green says:

    The first release was a great read, so it’s good to see the latest installment is out. The ‘fly on the wall’ perspective it gives us on your encounters with the many and varied players in the carbon war makes it very compelling – all the more so given the scale and importance of the challenge.

  16. Ed Gillespie says:

    I’m enjoying ‘The Winning of the Carbon War’ – a great follow-up to ‘Energy of Nations’…and with a page-turning/cliff-hanger/yet-to-be-revealed ending to boot! (fingers crossed).

    Jeremy’s analysis is spot-on, his insider insights gripping and his story-telling suitably spell-binding. A superb read.

  17. Anthony Simpson says:

    An incredible, candid insight from a rare breed – someone who understands intimately both the workings of the fossil fuels industry, and renewable energy. It’s so encouraging that we are on the cusp of an economic tipping point towards renewables – thanks in part to the courageous work of analysts from Energy Transition Advisors and Carbon Tracker. I would like to think that the feet dragging of industry and fund managers is due to a massive Group Think, rather than them knowing exactly what they are doing and being too greedy and outrageously reckless to do anything about it.

  18. brilliant and insightful work that delivers the vital information the world needs to know and act upon.

  19. Mighael Vroom says:

    Jeremy Leggett has helped the argument for renewables move from a moral and technological rationale to one that clearly articulates the financial and business logic of the energy transition. It is not only about economics of individual technologies, but about systemic financial threats to our society. The world needs to and is changing rapidly. His most recent book, together with its predecessor ‘The Energy of Nations’, provide the final reasoning that completes everybody’s toolbox in discussions to promote a carbon free economy. After reading Jeremy’s books, there is no rational argument left to maintain fossil fuel powered business-as-usual. ‘Winning the Carbon War’ shows how quickly things can unfold and that we are on course for radical changes.

  20. Alex Honnold says:

    I read the first section of the Carbon War in a single sitting. The delightful writing style kept me hooked (and I had a fair amount of spare time).
    It’s such a pleasure to see this perspective on where the world is heading.
    I hope this book is read far and wide – it’s the kind of thing that we should all think about more.

  21. Peter Carter says:

    There are plenty of the worst ever villains in the carbon war. Yes it is a war, for our survival that we must win. Jeremy Leggett is a great climate hero and inspiration.

  22. Anna Watson says:

    The insight that Jeremy offers into his direct experience of fighting the carbon war is fascinating.

    From meeting with government officials to discuss Carbon Tracker to protesting local fracking to attending the big global energy conferences, Jeremy’s personal account builds a picture of the movement as it is unfolding on many different public and private stages, offering a unique and engaging view from the frontline.

    I think it’s great that this work has been made available for free, opening the content to anyone interested ahead of COP21. I urge you to download it if you haven’t already and look forward to reading the next instalment!

  23. John Hassard says:

    Don’t start reading this book if you are on a deadline: you’ll not put it down. But if you do read it, you’ll find that not only is humanity on its own deadline, but, despite the efforts of so many, there is a real chance that we’ll meet it. It would be nice to think that humanity will move away from simply burning hydrocarbons and embrace alternatives out of an ethical or moral position, but in the end, it could be that market forces are far more significant. Leggett’s amazing book walks us through the existential struggle of the last few years and clearly and cautiously suggests that if we’re not at the beginning of the end, then there’s a good chance we’re at the end of the beginning. Which side of history do you want to be on?

  24. Liz Reason says:

    This is great. I’ve now got a real sense of a quiet revolution unfolding. I want the rest of the book to reinforce that optimism. Looking forward to it.

  25. Susan Seymour says:

    Jeremy, just read your first 66 pages. Love it. Looking forward to the next episode.

  26. Thanks a million for sharing Jeremy. I am almost done reading but wanted to let you know how incredibly interesting this is and well written. You really take people on a ride. It reads like the story of a ‘rebel for a cause’ and I am convinced this will inspire people to think of what they could do. Positioning yourself as also vulnerable and not “mr know-it-all” allows for others to recognize themselves in you, stand up and ACT!

    If I do may make a suggestion, you tend to close up many ‘chapters’ or ‘visits/events’ with a sort of ‘proverb/saying/statement’ of some kind. As much as I like those, I found them rather frequently, which made it loose some of it’s impact. My humble suggestion would be to use ‘oneliners’ or ‘catchy phrases’ more scarcely but perhaps repeat them so they stick better.

    I will share with my network!

  27. Christoph Harwood says:

    This a great easy read about what is happening behind the scenes as we move towards a low carbon economy. It shows what we are up against but also how we are winning.

    The Carbon Tracker work will be seen as one of the pivotal pieces of action when we look back and it is fabulous to see it being used to drive policy.

  28. Rob Shaw says:

    This is a subject that has long fascinated and worried me. Having worked in the renewable energy and climate change sector for nearly 15 years I’m inclined to agree that the tide is beginning to turn in our favour. Looking ahead though, it is easy to see some of the implications of a low carbon, decentralised energy future. Energy generation will close to everyone, on roofs, hillsides and at the end of the street, rather than hidden from most of us in large power stations. Working day-to-day trying to consent solar and wind farms I see what a challenge this can be, and we are still at the foothills of deployment. I would expect that the growing potential for communities, businesses and local government to own their own generation should have a profound impact on their acceptability but we (the energy industry and planning profession) need to work hard to shape this debate and ensure we take the public with us.
    More widely, and more excitingly, the energy transition and our responses to climate change allow us to rethink how we use land and the mix of uses, location and types of development and infrastructure we need. Our approach must become more integrated, whereby our responses to things like flood risk, energy demand, biodiversity protection, housing growth and economic growth are all considered as part of the same story. Take solar as one example: by combining solar generation with storage, communication and data technologies we can provide services to the electricity grid. Not only does this help resolve grid capacity constraints it also opens up the opportunity for new forms of energy-led development, along with the prospect of community ownership.
    There are some enlightened planners and economists out there but the energy transition you depict requires a wholesale change in mind-set and approach to planning and decision-making. We need to make this work and this is where I am focussing most of my attention at the moment.

  29. Thanks a lot for putting this inspiring reading together, Jeremy. It amazingly describes the 100% RE movement which we can observe in all parts of the world. You show so convincingly that winning of the carbon war actually means transforming our energy system into 100% RE. While I was never in doubt that we manage this transformation (because fossil resources are finite), I rather wondered:
    Do we make this transition from fossil fuels to 100% RE on our own terms, in ways that maximize the benefits to us today and to future generations, or do we turn our heads away and suffer the economic and social shocks that rising prices and market volatility will create—as it has done so often in the past? Your stories encouraged me to think positive: Yes! We can do it!!!

  30. Another great read and another great chronicle of the incumbency’s doddering blindness. Jeremy’s insider role makes for great insight: so the heads of energy companies are touring European capitals arguing that renewable subsidies be abolished? And Carbon Tracker was initially funded by a Rockerfeller-aligned group? There’s an extremely poignant piece when Jeremy visits Berlin and recalls the now deceased Hermann Scheer – architect of Germany’s feed in tariff and an inspiration to many in the renewables movement… and lots more.

    It’s this kind of colour that humanizes the carbon debate, as the world finally starts to swings away from carbon dependency – fascinating stuff.

  31. This superb book should be read by as many people as possible this crucial year. The wrenching of a transition from burning what is in the earth towards welcoming and using the light and energy that comes from the sun is the great challenge all on earth are living. Jeremy’s description of his presence and efforts very close to the financial and energy-technological axis that needs to be turned is extremely inspiring. It can gives us the strength and hope to work on making this turn together. The changes are immense as entire industries will have to shift from burning to carbon to molding silicon. The better the world’s population and industries understands this, the greater our chances of doing it as quickly as possible as is needed to keep our world and climate liveable. This is a sacred job for all of us now.

  32. Bill Green says:

    Jeremy’s latest work is an important chronicle of events that have taken place and the defective thinking of so many energy industry professionals. I read the entire volume in one fascinating sitting. I look forward to the next chapters and hope that the ending of this fable is a happy one… Bravo for the wisdom and the journalism!

  33. David Wood says:

    I’ve just downloaded and read the first excerpt. It’s a marvellous read, full of personal touch. What’s enjoyable is the insight about the individual human dramas that run alongside the broader dramas of politics, economics, and technology. I particularly liked the reflections on the psychological factors which constrain people’s abilities to see the writing on the wall. I’m already eagerly anticipating the next extracts (especially what they will say about the falling oil prices). And of course, the ending of the book hangs in the balance.

  34. Jeremy, I have done nothing else over the last 4 hours but read your ‘The Winning of The Carbon War’. It’s brilliant and a great read! Can’t wait to get the next 66 pages!

  35. Jeremy Leggett is probably the most important writer on climate change and its technical and political solutions on the planet. That’s because he’s been at it so long and left academia for the real world of business (solar) and political action, and of course advocacy-writing going back to the early Nineties.
    His company, Solar Century, has done more for solar in the UK than any other — it was a pioneer in both residential and commercial installations. The most amazing project I’m aware of was featured on the cover this month of the American Solar Energy Society’s magazine, Solar Today. This is the huge and highly visible Black Friars Bridge project with solar arrays stretching its full length across the Thames in Central London.

  36. Abyd Karmali says:

    Jeremy has been cataloguing the shifting marco trends in the energy sector for some time and has long warned of the climate crisis. Great that he is providing such granular views from the front line as we try to navigate such a potentially tumultous period of transition and help achieve a massive scale up and speed up of finance into the low-carbon economy.

  37. Peter marsh says:

    Peter Marsh (@PeterMarsh307)
    03/03/2015 22:03
    Congrats @JeremyLeggett for his latest marathon effort to press for a low-carbon society.

  38. Alex Malcolm says:

    I look forward to your serialisation of the Carbon War with eager anticipation and have posted it on my Facebook page.

    Meanwhile, I will enjoy this month’s edition which promises to be a fascinating and entertaining read…

  39. You planted seeds twenty five years ago, others like me planted theirs in the seventies (Natural Energy Centre 1977-80) or even earlier.
    Carbon emissions in UK are falling at an accelerating rate. Let’s keep watering the seeds!

  40. Dave Hampton says:

    Superb. Jeremy is absolute right that the forces of money, commerce, science, endeavour, politics, ethics and common sense, are all aligning, at long last, to bring about the end of the era of dominance by the spent forces of the fossil fuel feeding frenzy. We enter the solar century about 15 years late, but better late than never.
    Let’s do this.

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