Our latest ‘Critical Conversation’ podcast features an exclusive interview with Lord Browne of Madingley, the former Group CEO of BP.
Lord Browne is currently the Executive Chairman of L1 Energy, Deputy Chairman of Wintershall Dea, and the Chair of the biomedical research centre the Francis Crick Institute. His latest book, ‘Make, think, imagine – the future of civilisation’ published in paperback on 11 June, has been described as ‘an ode to the ways in which engineering has improved human civilisation.’
In this 25-minute conversation, recorded on 15 June 2020, Lord Browne discusses how Covid-19 has forced us to reconsider the power of nature, confront our slow response to climate change and the importance of corporate statesmanship by resource companies in a de-globalising world.
Among the key points raised by Lord Browne:
- The pandemic has brought home the fact that nobody is more powerful than nature. While the virus does not pose a globally existential threat to humanity, another natural phenomenon – climate change – does.
- Structural change can be expected for oil and gas demand as new ways of travelling, working and producing take hold after the pandemic. Changing habits will accelerate the already declining demand for oil.
- In the wake of the crisis new jobs will need to be created, which can be done by investing in new technologies, new energy forms, better waste management and bigger architectural components. Nowadays, these are more sensible investments than conventional oil and gas.
- The crisis has accelerated existing trends, including ‘de-globalisation’. We were already questioning our way of doing things. It is not just about trade, but also about technology – the US was surprised by the rapid ascendance of China and its leapfrogging in certain technologies.
- Executives must navigate current geopolitics based on a clear set of values, which are consistently applied, with a dose of realistic pragmatism!
- ESG is here to stay. Investors want to avoid companies that have systemic risks and ESG is a good indicator of long-term corporate health.
- The national oil companies (NOCs) remain laggards on climate change – but have fundamentally different priorities as critical pillars of their national economies. With over 80% of hydrocarbon resources in their hands, the choices the NOCs make will shape the future of the energy industry far more than the actions of the international majors.