New County Council
If any further proof were needed that David Cameron has well and truly ditched the “Green crap”, then look no further than today’s announcement that he has hired a consultant from the secretive oil and gas engineer Schlumberger to be his special adviser on energy and environment.
Stephen Heidari-Robinson (pictured above) will take up the role immediately today (16 September 2015). Heidari-Robinson was formerly vice president in Schlumberger Business Consulting’s UK office, and has 10 years of experience in oil and gas consulting, according to an article here. He has also worked in the civil service, private equity, and the not-for-profit sector, with a focus on the Middle East and Asia. Before joining Schlumberger, Heidari-Robinson was head of McKinsey’s organisation and NOC (National Oil Companies) services line in the oil and gas practice.
Schlumberger, which provides specialist kit for oil and gas wells, and especially for fracking (picture above), was recently described by The Guardian as “The oil world’s most secretive operator” in an article entitled “Where there is oil and gas there is Schlumberger”.
That article reveals how Schlumberger was recently hit by the largest corporate criminal fine in US history for violating sanctions against both Iran and Sudan and for attempting to hide those activities from authorities.
It also states that unlike other giant oil and gas service giants, such as Halliburton, it resists lobbying, donating to political parties and hiring politicians. Still, perhaps Schlumberger executives feel they don’t need to. They must be delighted that their former employee now has the ear of the British prime minister.
As a “special adviser”, although Heidari-Robinson will be paid by the taxpayer, he will be answerable only to David Cameron and the Conservative Party, not to the civil service.
Heidari-Robinson will be able to tell Cameron to get on with making fracking easier in Britain for his former employer’s clients, and encourage him to keep giving tax breaks to North Sea oil companies (who need fancy kit from the likes of Schlumberger) to extract the last drop of fossil fuel from their drying out wells.
But Stephen H-R is not likely to warn Cameron that he is slowly throttling Britain’s nascent renewables industry. Nor that the renewables industry employs more people, per unit of energy it produces than the fossil fuel industry. Nor that oil and gas majors and the companies that service them, like Schlumberger, are dependent for future profits on wrecking the planet by burning more fossil fuel than the world’s ecosystems can bear.
As if to underline Cameron’s wilful blindness, on the same day, a report from Ernst & Young shows that the UK has dropped out of the top 10 countries for renewable energy attractiveness for the first time. It says this comes as a result of “severe” and “totally unexpected” policy revisions.
The analyst’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index published today (Wednesday 16 September) puts the UK in 11th place overall, down three places on the last quarter. It said that the government’s interventions on renewables policies over the past few months had left many “perplexed as to what the future now holds for a renewables sector that has already been plagued by uncertainty and policy U-turns over the past two years”.
You read it here first! Pope Francis will on Thursday issue an edict on the moral necessity to take action on climate change.
This has been in the air for a while (and I see there is a Guardian piece on it today) but it was the first I knew about it. I heard about this morning at a talk and workshop at St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh, organised by the local benefice, and run by Colin Bell of something called the Faraday Institute. As far as I can tell Mr Bell and the Faraday Institute are working to turn the Church of England green.
The Pope has spent the past two years honing this edict, says Mr Bell, and the hope is that the Church of England and other protestant churches will follow him. If they don’t they risk being seen as more conservative than the Pope. He also showed us a rather good cartoon summarising the recent history of international climate talks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B11kASPfYxY
And there was a great quote from one of Pope Francis’s scientific advisors: Bishop Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has said: “The challenge of climate change has become not only economic, political or social. It is also an issue of morals, religion, values such as justice and social inclusion, the obligation of solidarity with future generations and the moral obligation to care for the earth, namely creation, which is our habitat.”
The other good thing about this session in Hadleigh was that it might just lead to a Transition Hadleigh group, to try to make the town and the church greener and less dependent on fossil fuels and to get existing groups in the town working together.
Pleased to see our new Conservative MP James Cartlidge was there, although he did not stay very long. There are key decisions for world leaders coming up in Paris in December as part of the next round of climate agreements – known as COP21. There have been positive noises from the G7 about becoming fossil fuel free by end of the century and from China and President Obama on a bi-lateral deal to cut carbon emissions. So things are going in the right direction for once. I hope our MP will take on board the importance of these talks and press his superiors in Government to pledge big carbon cuts for Britain – both before 2020 to meet existing commitments and for tough new commitments after 2020.
If you feel the same please write to him, or try to go see him on Wednesday 17 June in Westminster at the Climate Change event.
Another thing it would be great to see would be Suffolk County Council, which has a well meaning initiative to be “the Greenest County”, getting its pension fund to sell its huge £15m stake in BP – one of its single largest investments. At least four fifths of the world’s declared oil reserves need to stay in the ground if we are to avoid 2 degrees of global warming. BP’s business plan is extract and burn as much oil as possible. So why is Suffolk’s pension committee risking its members’ retirements by investing in a company intent on releasing more carbon than is compatible with the survival of human civilisation?
Next on my to do list – start a divestment campaign aimed at Suffolk County Council’s pension fund.