COP26 Leadership Series: Paul de Leeuw, Director, RGU Energy Transition Institute

  • Thought Leadership

On Wednesday 11th August, FWB Park Brown welcomed Professor Paul de Leeuw to the fourth in the COP26 Leadership Series, this time focussing on the UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review, as published in May 2021 by Robert Gordon University. With over 33 years’ experience in the global energy sector, Paul is the Director of RGU’s Energy Transition Institute, a Professor at the University, and Chair of PlanSea Solutions. As a regular contributor to net zero activities, climate change discussions and industry events on issues and developments across the international energy sector, FWB Park Brown were delighted to host Paul in this capacity.

From Paul’s perspective, today’s energy industry leaders are the first to truly see the impacts of climate change, and potentially the last to be able to tangibly make a significant impact to the issue. The rise of social media has highlighted the daily issues we face on a global scale by increasing accessibility to breaking news content: floods, droughts, forest fires, winter storms. This ability to highlight global challenges creates mounting pressure on world leaders and industry leaders to make change in this era of climate crisis. Certain countries remain in the spotlight, with 10 countries producing around 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, while countries globally must act to mitigate climate change, there remains a heavy focus on the actions of these high polluters. As well as this focus on specific countries, some industries are scrutinised more intensely than others. In 2019, for example, the emissions of Saudi Aramco alone were in excess of Germany, France, Spain and Italy’s annual emissions combined. Despite the UK’s comparably lesser emission rates, we remain an influential voice in the context of combatting the climate crisis, hosting events such as the G7 Summit in June 2021, and the upcoming COP26 conference later this year.

Within the UK, the energy landscape needs to change. While oil and gas remains an essential commodity within our energy infrastructure, opportunities in wind are increasing significantly, as well as those within hydrogen. These commitments to renewables will drive new opportunities nationally and on a global scale, providing new outcomes and investment opportunities. While coal, oil and gas are derived from around 20 countries, solar, wind and hydrogen can be derived on a far more local scale. Every country will have the capacity to generate its own energy, which will significantly impact the supply chain. The UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review predicts that by 2030, two thirds of the energy workforce will focus on low carbon initiatives. 90% of the current energy workforce are thought to have medium to highly transferable skills, which is key to facilitating the changing landscape of energy. “Greening” companies will be an omnipresent and this is an excellent opportunity for key players now to adapt and survive. Agile leadership will remain fundamental in what is set to be an interesting and challenging time.

For more information on our COP26 Leadership Series, please view the full brochure: COP26 Leadership Series Brochure

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