This week we speak with James Atkins, the Chairman of Vertis Environmental Finance and Director of Planet Super League – using the power of football to inspire fans to take action on climate change.
From this introduction, you might guess, James does more than just trade in carbon emissions. If there is an environmental polyglot, then James is it. From co-founding an organic farm to writing a book for football fans on climate change – he is out there working with businesses and social groups to ensure a positive impact is being made on the environment.
In this episode, you’ll learn how James moved away from the world of corporate accounting and set up his on consultancy, which over time, became Vertis Environmental Finance – an early pioneer in emission credits trading.
Within this interview, you’ll learn the softer side of why and how a business makes adjustments based on changing needs and regulations. Essentially, we have a story of a start-up learning and then copying how to break into the world of global emissions trading – learning by doing.
James is a true environmental leader. As you’ll hear his message and activities span from the UK all the way to Romania. And as you’ll learn, he’s got a range of projects going on, like a certification scheme for rewilding solar farms in the UK to a cellulose collective in Romania.
The intent of the MyEnergy2050 podcast is to spread knowledge about how the energy system can assist our transition towards a greener future. The interview with James delivers on this point.
About the AuthorDr. Michael LaBelle is an associate professor at Central European University. He holds a joint appointment between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and the Department of Economics and Business. He founded the MyEnergy2050 website to change how we communicate and implement the energy transition.
You Might also like
By Michael LaBelle — 3 months ago
We can speak of the ‘Carbon Storm of 2021’ which reflects the new reality of Climate Capitalism, which Michael spoke about in episode 31. We are now paying the price of the energy transition, and how consumers, governments and industry react and work together to make this transition will also determine the price we pay in the short and the long-term.
By Michael LaBelle — 2 weeks ago
This week we speak with Adrian Bull, who holds the Chair of Nuclear Energy and Society at the University of Manchester, and has been at the British Nuclear Laboratory for more than 20 years.
I wanted to have Adrian on to discuss the potential upswing in support for nuclear power. This is seen in the EU Commission proposing that nuclear is considered green power. Also, the rapid price increase in gas may be leading governments to look for long-term power solutions. However, Adrian’s response is telling. He reflects back on a ten-year social media post, where he was projecting the last decade would be a new nuclear era. Well, as we all know that didn’t happen.
I always consider nuclear a special case. First, it is extremely divisive. It provides essentially carbon-free electricity, but this benefit is countered by the long-term radioactivity of nuclear waste – and the challenges of storage. Second, new nuclear power plants are extremely expensive upfront, and as we discuss, it requires government financial support. And finally, the projected lifetime from building to decommissioning is decades and decades. Nuclear requires serious social and political support. The shutting down of viable nuclear power plants in Germany demonstrates what happens when there is a loss of political and social support.
The focus of the interview, and the key take-aways are not the technical issues around nuclear. Rather, it is about understanding the social aspect of nuclear power. We explore how the nuclear industry is interacting with society. And if you think the nuclear sector is unique, you’ll be surprised how our discussion develops. The lessons learned from nuclear power and public engagement can easily be applied to other energy generation projects, like wind and solar farms.
Regardless of your opinion ON nuclear power, our discussion around: 1) public engagement; 2) risk management; 3) Scientific knowledge engagement in the media. As Adrian describes, the history of nuclear power is not about the failure of the technology, but rather about finance and communication. The perception of the public and policymakers shapes the energy system.
This observation is highly relevant when we speak of the energy transition and how to make it happen. In some countries, nuclear power will have a role, for others, absolutely not. But regardless of the technology the issues of financing, risk perception each shape the energy system in a country.
My final suggestion is when you listen to this episode, to keep a broader frame of the whole energy system in mind. We delve into consideration of the generation technology in an energy mix, because if it’s not nuclear what is it?
And just a note for frequent listeners. I updated the website over the holiday period. We are growing our episode list, so now we have a better search function and more categories to organize the episodes. You can also now subscribe to the podcast on more podcast apps as well.
And finally, on the website you can sign up for episode updates, and the forthcoming newsletter. The podcast listener community continues to grow and I’m amazed by this. Feel free to share the episodes and think about using them as a resource for teaching and research. I post the transcripts and each episode contains historical accounts of a sector and the most recent policy discussions.
Published: January 6, 2022
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018: New Year’s Honour for leading Nuclear Communicator | National Nuclear Laboratory (nnl.co.uk)
Podcast interview: Experts | Adrian Bull (titansofnuclear.com)
The communication article discussed in the episode is at Nuclear Future Archive (nuclearinst.com) issue 17, #5
LaBelle, Michael, and Andreas Goldthau. “Escaping the Valley of Death? Comparing Shale Gas Technology Policy Prospects to Nuclear and Solar in Europe.” The Journal of World Energy Law & Business 7, no. 2 (December 18, 2013): jwt020. https://doi.org/10.1093/jwelb/jwt020.
By Michael LaBelle — 5 months ago
This week we speak with Ricardo Gorini and Gayathri Prakas from the ReMap team at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA published this summer the World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5 degree Celsius Pathway. Our conversation today is about the report. Yes, we get technical, but we also learn about the REASON for the report. This is not your usual climate and death report – rather it’s an ambitious challenge to world leaders to actually deliver the goods by 2050. As the report makes clear, business as usual – even in a Paris scenario – doesn’t deliver the goods. The perspective we gain by having a conversation with members of the team, that put the report together, makes us – or at least me, appreciate the importance of the findings even more.
We learn from Gayathri that the reason for the report is not just to demonstrate that renewables are the cheapest and smartest way to save the planet. We know – or at least many of you listening to this podcast do. What we find out is that the recent youth pressure for countries to do more, to fulfill the Paris Climate Agreement was the reason to push for a 1.5 Celsius scenario. Because as the report states,
“Current plans fall woefully short of a 1.5°C goal. Based on existing government energy plans and targets, including the first round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, the policies in place will do no more than stabilise global emissions, with a slight drop as 2050 approaches. Despite clear evidence of human-caused climate change, widespread support for the Paris Agreement, and the prevalence of clean, economical, and sustainable energy options, energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 1.3% annually, on average, between 2014 and 2019.” pg 20
The basis of the report starts with the knowledge that governments are not doing enough and we need to be more ambitious to make it happen.
The report I really like because it maps out the measurable progress we need to make each year to realize a profound shift in technologies and practices. Personally, and professionally speaking, the report delivers a clear path forward. As Gayathri states, every day counts, and she is NOT exaggerating.
As I state in each episode of the My Energy 2050 Podcast, the purpose of this podcast is to highlight the people spreading the knowledge about the energy transition. This episode delivers a homerun on this account. We get a bit technical at times, so on the surface some of our discussion is, well, technical, but as you will hear throughout the episode, the justification and understanding of what technological and policy solutions are on the short term horizon – such as green hydrogen, can deliver a rapid and affordable energy transition.
A big thanks go to IRENA for approving this interview. And it follows episode 11, where I speak with Luis Janiero and Sean Collins about their roadmap for Central and Southeast Europe.
In short, this episode delivers an in-depth discussion on the pace of change, but also the path of technological developments and the tremendous potential we still have to unlock. Because renewables are ALREADY cheaper than fossil fuels. So let’s start working on the transition and leave fossil fuels for the fossils.
” Innovations in technology, policy and markets are being implemented worldwide (IRENA, 2019a). Significant progress has been made in electric mobility, battery storage, digital technologies and artificial intelligence, among others. These shifts are also drawing greater attention to the need for sustainable exploitation and management of rare earths and other minerals, and investment in the circular economy. New and smart grids, ranging from mini to super grids, bolstered by facilitative policies and markets, are enhancing the power sector’s ability to cope with the variability of renewables. Direct uses of renewables – including bioenergy – and green hydrogen are bringing much-needed solutions in transport, buildings and industry.” World Energy Transitions Outlook: 15 degree Celsius Pathway, IRENA, pg 18World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway (irena.org)