January 25th 2005: Lord Ron Oxburgh, Charman of Shell UK, delivers the latest Greenpeace Business Lecture

Last edited 29 August 2003 at 8:00am
Lord Ron Oxburgh, Charman of Shell UK

Lord Ron Oxburgh, Chairman of Shell UK

Ken's vision for a low carbon London

Watch excerpts from Ken's speech.

It's the capital of the UK, the biggest energy demand centre in the country and the largest city in Europe. And it can slash its CO2 emissions, gas consumption and reliance on fossil fuels without nuclear power.

That was London Mayor Ken Livingstone's message when he laid out his vision for a low carbon London at a Greenpeace Business lecture in March 2006. The mayor called for the government to invest in decentralised energy (DE) instead of wasting taxpayers' money on nuclear power - "the failed technology of the past".

"We don't have time to make mistakes in tackling climate change," Livingstone said. "Nuclear power is neither the cheapest, the safest, or the most reliable way to reduce greenhouse gases".

The mayor was launching a new Greenpeace commissioned report, Powering London into the 21st century, which lays out exactly how decentralising London's energy would be far more efficient than centralised nuclear power in cutting London's CO2 emissions, ensuring energy security and stimulating the economy. The vision for London is based on approaches that have been proven successful in Denmark and the Netherlands. Closer to home, Woking Council has cut its CO2 emissions by 77% by decentralising its energy supplies.

This solution is perfect for densely populated cities like London, which is responsible for around 15% of the UK's CO2 emissions. Comparing decentralised and nuclear scenarios, the report shows that London could reduce its carbon emissions by around 30% by 2025 without new nuclear reactors. Much of London's heating needs would also be met under the decentralised scenario.

The report's findings - which independently reinforce those of a recent report on the effects of adopting a decentralised energy policy UK-wide - demolish the myth that nuclear power is the only answer to climate change. Ken Livingstone said: "I hope the government will invest in the most efficient, proven solutions to combat global warming: greater energy efficiency, decentralised energy and renewable energy."

Greenpeace is calling on the government to write a Decentralised Energy White Paper, which should look at the barriers currently holding back decentralised energy. It should look at measures to require all new buildings to incorporate decentralised energy technologies, all electricity suppliers to buy surplus electricity from decentralised power generators and ways to reward installers of renewable, decentralised technologies.

"The government says its Energy Review is about finding how we can best cut CO2 emissions and ensure a secure energy supply for the UK," said Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace. "If the government is genuinely concerned about climate change and fuel security then they need to start taking decentralised energy seriously and stop wasting their time considering the less effective, dangerous, dirty and expensive nuclear option."

If the largest city in Europe doesn't need nuclear power to slash its CO2 emissions, consume less gas and vastly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, then who does?

Listen to the introduction by Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace (mp3, 912 KB) or Ken Livingstone's speech (mp3, 5378 KB).

Shell Chair implores government to act now
Warning against the 'angry beast' of climate change, Lord Ron Oxburgh, Chairman of the UK arm of Shell, argued that more determined government action was necessary to limit emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. Delivering the fourth Greenpeace Business Lecture on 25 January, Lord Oxburgh's solutions focused on technological innovations from the corporate sector, coupled with a much tougher regulatory and tax regime from governments.

According to Lord Oxburgh, Shell has nothing to fear from the taxation and regulatory changes that are needed to avoid the potential consequences of climate change. "Shell is an energy company and I would be very surprised if Shell were doing business in the same way in 30 years time as it is today." Governments in developed countries need to introduce taxes, regulations or plans such as the European Union carbon trading scheme to increase the cost of emitting CO2. This is the only way that technologies such as bio-fuel, carbon sequestration, the use of hydrogen as a fuel and wave, tidal, wind and solar power would displace the use of oil, coal and gas.

"None of this is going to happen if the market is left to itself," Lord Oxburgh said. Shell's strategy for coping with tougher laws and taxes on using oil and gas is to gain expertise in the various environmentally-friendly technologies that may play a role in meeting future energy needs. Following his 50 minute talk, Lord Oxburgh responded to an hour of questions ranging from the role of Shell in a changing world, to solving China's growing energy needs, to his personal contribution to halting climate change. (He and his family are avid bike riders - arriving at the lecture in a yellow neon jacket with his fold-up Brampton bicycle.)

On the technical side, Lord Oxburgh focused on the need for more research into marine renewables - particularly wave and tidal power, which he said were "under researched and under resourced." He also highlighted the important role that biofuels and biomass could play in producing energy for transport, electricity and heating. Hybrid cars are a cost and fuel efficient way of bridging the gap into a possible future energy economy based on hydrogen.

A transcript of Lord Oxburgh's speech is available from sammy.daniel@uk.greenpeace.org. The PowerPoint presentation which accompanied the speech can also be downloaded here (Note - requires MS Powerpoint to be installed on your computer in order to play).

Chief scientist calls for action
Speaking to a packed audience of politicians and business people at the third Greenpeace Business Lecture in London on 12 October 2004, Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, laid out a lucid analysis of global warming - leaving no one in doubt of its devastating consequences.

Sir David's 60-minute lecture held the attention of an audience of over 200 corporate executives, government policy-makers, MPs, lords, journalists, NGO representatives and environmental consultants. A further hour of insightful questions culminated in heartfelt applause for such a cogent presentation of the dangers of climate change. The Greenpeace Business Lecture is establishing itself as a serious forum for discussion, commentary and networking between government officials, business people and the NGO community. Within 24 hours, a range of senior government officials and MPs had seen Sir David's lecture and his office was disseminating it to influence politicians and governments in other countries.

A transcript of Sir David King's lecture is available from www.greenpeace.org.uk. The accompanying slides and notes are available at the Office of Science and Technology website:


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