I quite like technology and innovation. So I was intrigued by a recent news story about Norwegian oil company Statoil who are introducing new seabed-based technology that is so efficient, it is expected to find more than €20billion worth of oil from a hitherto redundant well (redundant because of the costs of retrieving the remaining oil in a more conventional manner).
It is a great story of innovation and engineering and, of course, as a corporation with responsibilities to employees and shareholders, Statoil is duty-bound to innovate and invest. That’s true, too, of their competitors who are all striving to discover new sources of oil and gas to ensure the life of the company and profitability. Any reasonable person enjoying life in a capitalist-based economy would surely agree that a CEO who didn’t have such a focus would be failing in her or his duty.
The problem is, of course, that for the oil companies, the pursuit of profit (which equates pretty much entirely to the production of carbon dioxide) is contrary to the global, planet-saving imperative to reduce carbon output.
There is a disparity between fulfilling legal objectives on the one-hand and protecting the long-term future of the planet on the other. However, the mindset switch required to change this is not a corporate one, nor a governmental one. It starts with you and I making the effort to get smarter about our fuel consumption; investing in low-carbon cars, choosing the train when it’s an option, video-conferencing instead of flying, thinking wind or sun to heat our houses, installing smart-meters, turning off lights, putting on sweaters and encouraging our neighbours to do the same. Why? Because step-by-step as each person adapts their behaviour then, you, me, the CEO and the shareholder will think conservation and sustainability … and make decisions accordingly.