The climate change narrative 

Winning the “carbon war” will be more about narratives than policy initiatives. That seemed to be the message of Jeremy Leggett, former Green Peace activist, and academic, current chairman of The Carbon Trust and founder of Solar Century, as he spoke to a meeting of the London Futurists.

And key to these narratives are what he says are three mega trends:

  • The plummeting costs of green technologies (called the “terrordome” by analysts AllianceBerstein)
  • The rising costs of fossil fuel extraction – over $700bn in 2014
  • Growing environmental activism around the world (there was a march happening in London at the same time as he was giving his speech)

These are inexorable trends and together they are pushing the world in the right direction ahead of the global climate summit in Paris in November.

There are counter narratives – such as the promise of cheap energy from fracking which is the current obsession of the Prime Minister and Chancellor. But Jeremy Leggett believes there are strong reasons why this fracking revolution isn’t going to happen. First, the U.S. success story is unravelling fast and may implode before the UK general election next May. That would force an abrupt change of line, he believes. Second, the British (and perhaps particularly those in the Tory shires) are pathologically opposed which makes it difficult to envisage, especially in the new era of minority government and coalitions.

The final reason Jeremy Leggett seems a lot more positive than many in the environmental movement is the growing acceptance by the financial community of the sizeable risk of a carbon bubble. Even the Bank of England is now examining the question to assess the systemic risk.

Taken together, he believes these narratives are turning the tide.

He is serialising, for free, a book outlining his arguments which can be downloaded here.

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