Product has been added to the basket

Commit, Regulate, Develop

Ted Nield's report of the Coping with Climate Change debate, first published on on 31 March 2003

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, President of the Geological Society of London, Chairman of Anglo American and former Chairman and Chief Executive of Shell, has called upon oil companies to recognise the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Sir Mark was speaking at a public debate on Wednesday 26 March, at which Greg Coleman (Vice President, BP - below) and Frank Sprow (Vice President, ExxonMobil - bottom), set out their companies’ views on emissions and climate change. The debate was organised as part of the Geological Society’s Petroleum Group meeting Coping with climate change.

Summing up a lively debate, Sir Mark iterated a three-point plan for corporations and governments in the developed world, including:
  • Collective commitment to IPCC and to levelling off CO2 content in the atmosphere
  • Government frameworks to guide the market ad deliver flexible solutions
  • Engagement with the developing world
Sir Mark said:

Collective commitment

"I think that …the position most major oil companies find themselves in relation to the work of the IPCC is that it’s a sound piece of science with a range of outcomes. These outcomes have error bars on them but offer the sort of certainty we quite often invest on."

He went on: "I don’t think we can stop where we are now, as some radical environmentalists would suggest – neither oil companies nor the IPCC believe that. The earliest you could flatten out the CO2 content of the atmosphere is somewhere around 550 parts per million. I think it would be constructive if we could collectively say that – that we need to level out at 550ppm. This commitment would have an input on consumers."

Government frameworks

"The second thing we need are Government regulatory frameworks within which the market can operate and deliver solutions - some kind of framework guiding the market. If we in major corporations could support that, we would help consumers in supporting their governments when they finally set these frameworks.

"We can’t sell things consumers don’t want; and Governments can’t do certain things to consumers, because they rebel - as Gordon Brown recently found out in this country. Our consumers and Government’s voters are the same people. That’s where we need these partnerships to say lets set up frameworks that allow us market people deliver solutions.

The developing world

"This is crucial because consumption is driven by transport – and all the growth in transportation is taking place in the developing world. None of us is planning growth for fuel sales in developed world - there it’s flat or going down.

"Maybe, some enlightened developing country government could persuade its people to go down another route, but I doubt it. They want what we’ve got. So we have to demonstrate, here in the developed world, that you can get both the utility and hugely increased levels of efficiency from fossil fuels."