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Carbon War: Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era [Paperback]

Jeremy Leggett
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 April 2001 0415931029 978-0415931021 New edition
First published in 2001. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (30 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415931029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415931021
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,117,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jeremy Leggett is a social entrepreneur and author of The Carbon War, Half Gone and The Energy of Nations. He is founder and chairman of Solarcentury, the UK's fastest growing renewable energy company since 2000, and founder and Chairman of SolarAid, an African solar lighting charity set up with five percent of Solarcentury's annual profit's, itself parent to a social venture, SunnyMoney, that is the top-selling retailer of solar lights in Africa. An Entrepreneur of the Year at the New Energy Awards, he has been described by the Observer as 'Britain's most respected green energy boss'. He was the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership in Climate Change, and a CNN Principal Voice. He chairs the financial-sector think tank CarbonTracker, and is a risk consultant to large corporations. He writes and blogs on occasion for the Guardian and the Financial Times, lectures on short courses in business and society at the universities of Cambridge and St Gallen, and is an Associate Fellow at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute.

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"A racy account of a key time for the environmental movement, when the battle between big-time, carbon-belching corporations and adamant greens was at its hottest . . . powerful and highly readable". -- New Scientist

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good references for the new comers 28 Nov 2001
By A Customer
The author, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, used a diary approach to describe his experience as a Greenpeace campaigner and lobbyist to flight for
the Climate Change which is the number one threat to the human nature. It is an extraordinary experience. He traveled around the world to attend meeting related to climate change. A good reference for the new comers.
There are eleven chapters. The highlight of each chapter was from its title. However, sometimes it was difficult to find the highlight inside the chapters because of the diary approach.
In Prologue, the author gave a brief summary how he 'transformed' from an 'instructor of oilman' to an environmentalist, and then a solar-energy entrepreneur. He has worked in the Royal School of Mines at the Imperial College. He has trained hundreds petroleum geologists and petroleum engineers. His research area was so called 'blue skies' related to the geological history of oceans. If Dr. Leggett revises the book, I would like to know more his thoughts when he was
teaching and when he was doing his research. My point of view, these two areas are really opposite to each other.
In the first six chapters, the author described the atmosphere of the 1990 IPCC meeting to indicate the early warning signal. He pointed out that there should be no difference between the environmental security threat assessment and any threat assessment involving military security. During a geological community conference the author told an 'oil-man' speaker about the basic arithmetic to the carbon cycle and the price of oil. At the end, he found out that the 'oil-man' was his former student. I was impressed by the author's honest description.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Carbon war 19 Nov 2006
This is a good place to start if you're interested in Climate Change and how politics works surrounding this issue. This looks at how Climate change was debated at the Kyoto summit and how oil companies and governments act in relation to this issue. It is fairly easy to read and although a little dry in places, it is well worth persevering with. I recommend other books by this author as he has a genuine interest in this issue and is able to put it across in an accessible way.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear, informative outline that reads like a novel 20 Feb 2002
By "germanac" - Published on Amazon.com
This is an excellent book which gives a very clear and readable outline of how global negotiations on climate change have been carried through over a decade and how they have been influenced behind the scenes by powerful lobby groups which had a vested interest in inaction. The author describes how a few of these groups later decided to shift away from their earlier position, a move which had a tremendous impact on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, enabling it to move forward.
The book has something in it for everyone. Despite the very complex topic and the breadth of information it contains, which can cater as well for specialists as for the layman, it reads like a novel. Leggett has successfully managed in the unlikely task to cover in one book: the evolving scientific findings on climate change; international politics and historical events which had an impact on negotiations; the growing role of non-governmental organisations; weather events and other environmental impacts of climate change in the past decade, and, crucially, the business and industry perspective, with its changing moods. In the background, Leggett also provides the reader with some information on his personal life choices and beliefs, which emanate a certain degree of optimism. This crucially turns the book into a motivating, albeit realistic, read.
This book should be read not only by those who have an interest in climate change. Anyone currently working in the energy sector, for example, could benefit from knowing more about how the industry has influenced climate change negotiations. In addition, the decision by George W. Bush to walk out of the Kyoto Protocol after his election will seem hardly surprising after reading this book, which can also help to put into perspective the current debate in the US on energy and climate policy.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Climate Change and Politics 4 Feb 2005
By Boris Bangemann - Published on Amazon.com
Jeremy Leggett's "The Carbon War" is the story of how the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 came about, and how companies in the business of thermal fuel (coal, oil, gas) - Leggett calls them the "Carbon Club" - tried to derail the process of setting enforceable goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. It is also the story of how self-interest, not surprisingly, overrides the general interest; how the United States, home to some of the largest oil and gas multinationals and the world's premier carbon dioxide emitting nation, sided with the Carbon Club; how Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, joined forces with the United States.

The Kyoto Protocol will come into force on 16 February 2005. It has been ratified by more than 55 of its signatory countries. The United States, led by George W. Bush, however, walked out on the agreement in March 2001.

The fact of global warming is hardly disputable. The five hottest years recorded since 1880 were 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2001, with 1998 having been the hottest. Whether the warming effect is man-made is still subject to discussion. But a full three quarters of scientists working in the field of climate change make the burning of fossil fuels responsible for the recorded increase in temperature.

The emission of carbon dioxide could be easily reduced if power could be economically generated by photovoltaic solar energy (PV). However, Adam Smith's invisible hand won't do the job in this particular case. It is a Catch-22 situation because PV will only be economically viable if the PV cells are mass-produced, but they are not mass-produced because people can't afford today's expensive PV products. This is a situation where government would have a proper role to fulfill - to jump-start a process that would help the common good where the mechanics of the market do not work. But unfortunately most governments do not care to do that.

Already in 1997, Leggett notes, "every country had its companies lost in skepticism about climate change. But in the USA the scale of the collective denial was unique." (264) Eight years later it is not much different. This denial comes at a cost, though. Not only the cost of becoming more and more isolated from global trends and losing the moral authority the USA enjoyed after Roosevelt and Truman established the country as a world power, but also an economic cost. State of the art ecological cars that really sell are not made by GM or Ford these days, but by Japan's Toyota. World-class oil companies with a comprehensive environmental policy are not ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco of the US, but BP and Shell of Europe.

Jeremy Leggett, by the way, founded his own company to promote and sell PV technology after he realized, with a certain bitterness, that his lobbying efforts to get emission limits agreed were not getting anywhere.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The inside story of climate change politics 23 Mar 2002
By Peter L North - Published on Amazon.com
Jeremy Leggett has written an outstanding book. A one time petroleum geologist teaching at the London School of Mines, in the 1980s Dr Leggett became concerned about climate change from carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere. He gave up a comfortable career to become a lobbyist for the environmental movement. In this role he has met all the main characters opposing and supporting greenhouse gas treaties. He describes not only the science, the politics, and the economics of the global warming issue, but also the personalities in "the Carbon War." between the fossil fuel industry on one hand and the environmental lobby on the other. The insights into both sides of this protracted war are fascinating - as are the various dirty tricks campaigns employed by the fossil fuel brigade. Dr Leggett writes not from the detachment of a scientist, but with the passion of someone with a vital message to sell and a vital cause to push. As premier science writer John Gribbin said on the book's front cover "the best book yet about the politics of global warming."
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible look into the politics/science of global warming 25 Jun 2001
By "brwnpaprbg" - Published on Amazon.com
I heard an interview w/ Jeremy Leggett on the radio...and decided to buy "The Carbon War" because he was so poised, intelligent, and straight forward--the guy knew his stuff. When the book arrived, I didn't realize it was as long as it is (332 pages)...but once I got started I couldn't put it down. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the politics of global warming...you will be blown away! Leggett recounts the decade long international debate over global warming and climate change, and reveals the major players and their motives.
His discussion includes his own reflections as an ex-oil industry geologist, genuine humor, easy-to-grasp scientific descriptions of the global warming crisis, and a history of the international debate over climate change from its inception. This book is a MUST for anyone who lives on planet Earth.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Front row seat 11 Dec 2004
By Betsy Mendelsohn - Published on Amazon.com
The author participated as an NGO spokesperson at many international meetings about CO2's contribution to climate change. His chronological treatment imposes order on the confusing, repeated climate prep meetings and negotiations of the 1990s. It was very helpful to read an unapologetic, informed account of these negotiations, replete with the hope & despair many felt about the participation of U.S. negotiators 1992-2000.

I bought it for my husband for his birthday, then proceeded to read it night after night until it was done. Leggett's first person accounts engaged and entertained me, and I admired his ability to switch between his memories of his own involvement and his descriptions of the state of science and policy at a given time. The sketches of the opposition always were worth reading, and I kept wondering whether he'd ever get really mean.

As a coda to reading the book, one could visit the website of OPEC to read their short policy statement on global climate change; see their FAQs number 20, an interesting read.
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