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The Carbon War: Dispatches from the End of the Oil Century [Hardcover]

Jeremy K. Leggett
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Aug 1999
The oil industry's hold on economies and politics has dominated the 20th century. The oil industry expects no different in the next. Yet if oil and other fossil fuels continue to be used at the current rate, the world is heading for environmental disater. Since the end of the 1980s, global warming has grown to be widely accepted as the single biggest threat to a viable future. This work is an insiders account of the global warming crisis, beginning with Jeremy Leggetts days as a progressively guilt striken oil consultant in 1988, his turnaround and resignation, and his work as a senior campaigner for greenpeace, doing battle with the mighty "carbon club" - the fossil fuel lobbyists - for cuts in greenhouse emissions. This document reveals the main players and business intrests behind the scenes, and urges the reader to look to the future before its to late.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (26 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071399360X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713993608
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,240 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.

Product Description


" of the half-dozen experts most responsible for putting the climate change issue on the international agenda." -- Washington Post, January 1996

"A ringside seat during 10 years of intense negotiations among some of the most powerful political and economic forces in the world ...vastly broadens our understanding ...a revelation. Suddenly the apparently contradictory nature of so much we have heard and read falls into place..." -- Glasgow Herald

"Essential reading... the best book yet about the politics of global warming." -- The Sundays Times, 5 September 1999

"Jeremy Leggett must be given credit for the best brainwave the green movement has had on how to combat global warming. -- Paul Brown - Environment Correspondent,The Guardian - "Global Warming: Can Civilizarion Survice," Blandford, 1996

"Leggett has done more to change attitudes towards the solar resource than almost any other individual ...he can claim to have put it firmly on the map this year." -- Financial Times, 3 September 1999

"Racy... a powerful and highly readable book. Those who want a crash course on the nature of today's environmental movement and the politics of the climate negotiations can be assured of an excellent, reliable read" -- New Scientist

"Sunshine superman ...the scientist who hauled big business over the coals then took up the power game." -- The Guardian, 12 August 1999

"a must for anyone interested in how a few global oil corporations hijack governments". -- The Guardian, 11 August 1999

From the Author

A vital way to fight in the carbon war is to "go solar."
The experiences I describe in the first decade of the carbon war will probably horrify those who have not been exposed to the full evidence of how bad the global-warming threat is, and how malign has been the oil and coal industrys' defence of the energy status quo. But it is my hope that the book will not sow seeds of despair. It is important to fight back, and a good way to do that is help solar electric energy replace the use coal and oil. Solar Century, the company I set up with the help of worried industrialists - as described towards the end of the book - is trying to do that. Since the book was completed, we have shown that solar electric technology works well even in cloudy countries like the UK. The challenge now is to help bring about mass production, and hence lower prices. The oil companies (for the most part) have been trying to stop this happening for years, as The Carbon War shows. Any person, organisation or company can help build on the partial victory for the environment described in the book.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of heroes and villains 27 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This is a good account of how vested interests and powerful lobbyists have consistently blocked and delayed proposals which could be essential to sustain the modern world in the 21st century. The author began his career in the oil industry but was unable to ignore the scientific facts concerning global warming and decided to employ his skills on behalf of Greenpeace. With them he was in an ideal position to observe, and contribute to, the various conferences and treaties that sought to deal with the problem of climate change. The science is well explained and it is clear that only a few maverick scientists (usually funded by the oil industry) actually dispute the probability of global warming occurring, the real argument is over whether we are doing enough to prevent a catastrophic runaway scenario taking place. The account of the different conferences and the interminable arguments over the wording of each protocol does sometimes drag, but shows the difficult and painful process that has been necessary for today's very limited agreements. Dr Leggett is better at revealing the cynical, short sighted and selfish policies adopted by the oil industry (aided and abetted by certain others) to thwart any attempt at restricting carbon emissions. They are the real villains of the piece, together with the spineless US government, and they seemed willing and able to direct the rulers of the oil producing nations to implement their wishes. They are occasionally comical, such as the Iraqui ambassador who does not believe in the existence of carbon dioxide on the grounds that it cannot be seen, or the US oil executive who believes the world is only a few thousand years old, until you realise that these sort of people are controlling the world's energy policy. It can all be slightly depressing, but it should also act as a real wake up call for us to consider the implications of our continued reliance on fossil fuel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Carbon War is an outstanding book. Although providing a very accessible account of global climate change, it is not first and foremost an environmental book; it is more an historical account of the politics and science of the greatest threat facing humanity, and a very important one at that.
Before establishing Solar Century, the new solar power company, Leggett led the Greenpeace International climate change campaign. His personal account of experiences in the various political and scientific meetings provides the best briefing I have seen on why governments have so failed to react to their greatest challenge. Crucially, it sets out the pivotal role played by industry organisations like the Global Climate Coalition and member companies like Exxon and General Motors in frustrating attempts to achieve a strong international climate protection treaty. It also exposes the self-destructive madness of the global financial markets who continue to invest billions in the development of new fossil fuel deposits.
If you read one book on global warming read this one. If you have time to read two, then look at the excellent and complementary Global Warming by Paul Brown.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I bought this book in September and brought it back to Canada, and am now reading it for the second time. It's so well written, and so revealing of the inside discussions and politics of the world's climate change negotiations. It's also an excellent "primer" on climate change as an issue - I now always include Jeremy Leggett's "Carbon arithmetic" in talks that I give, since it is so persuasive.
A great read !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare insight into high-stakes environment lobbying 24 Mar 2003
By Robin Cantin - Published on
Former geology consultant for the oil industry, Dr Jeremy Leggett turned his life around when he decided to jump the fence and join the fight to try and prevent catastrophic climate change caused by our addiction to fossil fuels. The book chronicles his new carreer as a scientist/lobbyist fighting the good fight and his constant brawls with lobbyists from the oil and coal organizations.
Great introduction to climate change issues and the probable consequences of losing this fight. A unique look at high-level lobbying and the way some corporations are ready to risk our collective well-being to protect their short-term bottom-line. A must-read for activists, lobbyists, PR professionals and concerned citizens everywhere.
Thumbs up!
5.0 out of 5 stars Carbon War 22 Jan 2011
By Spider Monkey - Published on
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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