The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00431: Lord Oxburgh

Key concepts
Shell oil major, changes of heart on road to Damascus, Lord Oxburgh
Attention Conservation Notice:
Go thou and do likewise, and sin no more.

Entries in the Viridian Visionary Contest:
Four of them! W00t!

"General Motors (GM) has unveiled its latest concept vehicle, the Sequel. ¬ÝThe Sequel incorporates technologies shown in previous concept vehicles, such as fuel cells, by-wire and wheel hub motors, as well as an 11-inch skateboard chassis.¬Ý The Sequel, about the size of a Cadillac SRX, travels up to 300 miles on its hydrogen supply, and accelerates to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds." Look at this wacky method of artificially petrifying wood. I wonder if one could wholly petrify an already existing wooden chair. Imagine the cognitive dissonance. "Solar Panel Built Entirely From Moondust." Wow, just like the Bush energy policy!¬Ý
Ernest Ronald Oxburgh (1934 - )


The Sunday Times – Britain
January 30, 2005

"Shell Oil Chief Defects to the Green Lobby

"THE outgoing chairman of Shell has announced he wants to take up a post with a climate-change charity when he quits the oil giant later this year, writes Jonathan Leake.

"Lord Oxburgh is so concerned at the potential destruction from globalwarming that he wants to devote more of his time to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

"The move is likely to cause some embarrassment at Shell, one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the world. (((Why "embarrassment," for God's sake? They should be justly proud!)))

Despite a history of environmental controversies, it is now seen as one of the greenest oil companies, but each year its worldwide activities and products still release about 700m tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (((Shell probably IS the greenest oil major, not just "seen as one." Yet most every time they do something sane and praiseworthy, the British press hounds them as if they were worse than Esso. Would you get the scorecard straight here, please? EXXON-MOBIL = Fiends from Hell. BP = Smart, With-It European Guys. SHELL = Practically Approaching Sainthood. ENRON = The Eventual, Miserable Fate of Every One of These Godforsaken Soot-Spewing Malefactors.)))

"By contrast, emissions from the whole of Britain total around 560m tons out of a total world output of 25 billion tons. (((That's right, the "whole of Britain" is 5/7th as culpable as Shell. And by the way, the "whole of Britain" is not regarded as one of the greener nations.)))

Yale Environmental Sustainability Index at Davos WEF – United Kingdom is ranked 65

"Oxburgh, who chairs Shell as a non-executive, said: 'When I leave I would like to go onto the board of a climate change charity. I would be campaigning for more responsible use of hydrocarbons.' (((What a great idea! The guy's a saint! Worldchanging should write him right away and ask him to blog!)))

"Oxburgh, who is also chairman of the House of Lords science and technology committee, (((Look! An oilman with an IQ!))) emphasises that the target of such campaigns would not be so much the oil companies as government ministers and departments. (((If the shoe fits, wear it.)))

"He believes it is only through taxation, regulation and new technology that the world can have any hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (((Okay, fine! That's what got us into this mess in the first place: taxation, regulation and new technology.)))

"However, his belief that governments should impose higher taxes on aviation fuels, petrol, oil, gas and other hydrocarbons to discourage their use may alarm other oil company executives. (((Not as much as a few stiff prison sentences for crimes against humanity would alarm them, but, well, let's wait and see.)))

"Oxburgh, an academic geologist by training, became chairman unexpectedly last year after the forced departure of Sir Philip Watts, who was criticised in the controversy over the overstating of Shell's oil reserves. The peer has now reached retirement age and is due to leave this summer. (((How hard are these "forced departures"? Especially if it dawns on shareholders that they're paying to poison themselves and wash their own homes away.)))

"He has faced apparent contradictions in chairing Shell – for example, by accepting long ago scientific arguments that the climate was being changed by greenhouse gas emissions. This has prompted him to abandon the executive transport and car park offered by Shell and adopt a folding bicycle, which he keeps in a cupboard in the lobby of the Shell building on the South Bank in London. (((He rides a FOLDING BIKE, for heaven's sake!)))

The skinny on the latest in folding bikes

((("Do YOU ride a folding bike? No? Then stop questioning his integrity!)))

"At home, Oxburgh has persuaded his wife and son to use bicycles and abandon the car "except for trips to the supermarket". For those, he uses a diesel capable of 60 miles to the gallon. (((Imagine if we all did that.)))

"'Domestically we all ride bicycles and use the car as little as we can,' he said. The family has also abandoned air travel for holidays – though Oxburgh still regularly has to fly on business matters. (((I have a hard time giving up flying, though I've been known to use the eerily abandoned Los Angeles Metro light rail system. It has some of the prettiest design of any railroad I ever saw, but Angelenos stare at it as if it were built for Martian tripods.)))

"His Cambridge home, insulated and double-glazed, is now also fully equipped with energy-saving light bulbs. 'I have some struggles with my family; there is a little resistance because they take a little while to warm up,' he said.

"Oxburgh has also helped Shell worldwide to adopt similar measures. The company now carries out carbon audits, employs consultants to seek new ways of cutting energy use and has drawn up long-term plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its internal activities.

"However, environmentalists say such measures are trivial when Shell is continually expanding its operations. Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: ’ÄúBefore he leaves, Lord Oxburgh should be trying to change Shell. The company is pumping more oil and gas than ever before.' (((D'you suppose Tony's family all rides bikes?)))

Oxburgh’Äôs ambition was, however, welcomed by Greenpeace, which has a long history of clashes with Shell, most famously when it successfully campaigned against the company’Äôs attempts to dump the disused Brent Spar oil rig at sea in 1995.

"Blake Lee-Harwood, director of campaigns at Greenpeace UK, said: 'We would still disagree on many issues but his expertise and experience would make him a welcome addition to the team.' (((THANK YOU for belonging to the Reality-Based Community, Greenpeace UK! In future you won't have to worry about Shell dumping oil rigs at sea – because the sea will rise up out of its bed to eat them.)))

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