The Carbon War

Global Warming and the End of the Oil Era

Posted: 25 June 2003

Author: Jeremy Leggett
Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1999, £8.99

Jeremy Leggett should know about the oil industry - he used to work in it, helping to turn out scores of newly-trained petroleum geologists through his work as an academic at London's Imperial College. Then in the hot summer of 1988 he underwent a full-scale eco-conversion, prompted by increasing fears about the role played by greenhouse gases in causing global warming.


Leggett then joined Greenpeace, and The Carbon War is a racy and engaging journey, seen through the eyes of this oilman-turned-climate lobbyist, through the many international climate conferences which ultimately led up to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

A consistent theme is the bloody rearguard battle being fought by what Leggett terms the 'Carbon Club': the powerful oil, coal and energy corporations who tried to derail the international process every step of the way. Leggett feels that the 'Carbon War' was ultimately lost by Big Oil and King Coal, though whether his optimism is well-placed still remains to be seen.

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The Carbon War

Reviewer: Mark Lynas

Reviewer Info: Mark Lynas is a specialist in Climate Change. His new book, High Tide: News from a warming world, will be published by Flamingo/HarperCollins in March 2004.