English majors are notorious for reading between the lines and coming up with character motivation theories that are not supported by the text on the page. That is one reason I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate education – it was fun to try to find the underlying story while most of my engineer friends were crying out in frustration as the humanities professors graded their analysis as shallow.
Here is a quote from a February 6, 2009 Op-ed piece by Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell. I think it is thought provoking and close to smoking gun quality, but more literal minded people will probably disagree:
Climate negotiators should also give CO2 capture and storage (CCS) high priority. While increased use of renewable and nuclear energy will help reduce emissions, by themselves they will not be able to keep up with fast-growing energy demand. Fossil fuels, like it or not, will remain the world’s main source of energy for decades.
Indeed, “cleaning up” fossil fuels is a necessary and vital bridge to a low-carbon future. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, CCS may contribute up to 55% of the emission reductions that scientists believe are necessary during this century to address global warming. But companies are reluctant to invest in CCS because it adds substantial cost and generates no revenue. If CCS is to fulfill its potential, companies need incentives to invest and a way to make money.
If I had the opportunity to address him personally, here is what I would say.
Frankly, Mr. van der Veer, I do not like your assertion of human society with many more decades remaining in its fossil fuel addiction.
Why should climate negotiators give a completely unproven and potentially quite hazardous technology like CCS “high priority” when we have a proven, safe, cost effective alternative that does not require any fossil fuel consumption at all. Could your advocacy have anything to do with the fact that you make an outrageously inflated salary running a company that pushes fossil fuel and hopes that we remain addicted to it forever?
Of course, I will probably never get such a chance, so it will have to remain a dream shared between us.