What scares fossil executives the most?

  1. A drop in share prices
  2. Sharks with necrotising fasciitis
  3. A broad alliance of activists determined to keep most fossil fuels in the ground

Prehistoric beasts armed with flesh-eating bacteria are pretty terrifying, but if you make a living selling ancient flammable plant material (coal, oil and gas), the last option is what’s likely to keep you awake at night.

But this is what we need to do. We could spend the next decade arguing over whether we can burn 20% of it, or 1/3, and so on; or we could commit to making our world greener and safer as soon as humanly possible. It’s our choice, but it’s one that we’ll have to live with for a long time, so we should choose carefully.

If you are one of those in charge of a large portfolio of Jurassic sunshine, you’ll notice your job has got a lot more difficult recently. People – regular, respectable people, not just those hippy types – are starting to question why your business model kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. What’s more, your old friend Economics has switched sides, meaning you now have to explain why we should pay a premium to use your murder fuel. The shadow of renewables hangs over every decision you make. What will happen to all that expensive machinery you use to make your money? Will it be scrap metal, or a new reef for fish to explore?

So, how do we kick the habit? We’ll discuss what a lethal chemist can teach us about social change, the homicidal lunacy of fossil subsidies, and how you feel about being eaten by a metaphorical tiger.

The great pillars of the house that fossils built – banks, investors, insurance companies, the stock market, public acceptance of fossil fuels as the ‘only way’ – are all showing some pretty impressive cracks.

So, let’s talk about how to make it fall.