Inspiration from “the Carbon War”

Discover the transformative power of unexpected conversations as Green Power founder, Nadim Chaudry shares his inspiring story of how a casual chat on a flight led them to delve into the world of renewables.

Nadim Chaudhry
September 30, 2014
5 min read
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I am often asked why I started working in the renewables sector back in 2003. At the time I was in my 8th year of running mobile telecoms conferences (including the Mobile World Congress) and had recently moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Everyone I knew back in the UK had decided to get married and rarely a month went by without a trip back. On one of the flights I struck up a conversation with my neighbour who was reading a yachting magazine, “did he have a yacht or the dream of a yacht?” I asked. Neither I was told but as a frequent flyer he liked to buy random magazines or books to help broaden his knowledge and learn something new to pass the time.

On my return flight suitably inspired, I grabbed a copy of a book “Carbon War” by Jeremy Leggett from a bookstore by the gate. I don’t remember why “a personal journey and insider’s perspective through the world’s climate negotiations leading to the historic Kyoto Climate Summit” piqued my interest but it did, and Im glad it did!

Well written and easily accessible for a non specialist such as moi, Leggett’s story successfully wove a narrative around the work of the fossil fuel lobbyists. One memorable scene has stuck with me. As the US climate team negotiators broke from session they were met by the US Chamber of Commerce representatives led by Brian Flannery, External Relations Director of ExxonMobil. Dr Flannery’s wagging finger body language gave Leggett the observer, little doubt who was pulling the strings. Leggett’s positioned the fossil fuel lobbyists as luddites blocking technology change (the luddites were textile artisans who smashed new labour saving machinery in the 18th century). The fossil fuel lobby clearly did not want climate change to exist, they had the money, the access and the influence to prevent change.

This point about allowing change reasonated with my own experience of the mobile telecoms and internet sectors where change was allowed to happen and which I had witnessed in depth with eight years of researching and attending telecoms conferences and witnessing amazing new companies emerge like Vodafone being spun out of Racal Telecom (a minor UK corporate telecoms provider) to become a global giant).

At the end book Leggett signs off with a memorable rallying call “right I’m off to start a solar company” which he did (UK’s largest solar business, Solar Century). Hence when Informa recalled me to London to rejoin my old conference team I found myself saying “no I’m staying in Brazil and I’m off to start a renewable energy conference company!” So thank you unknown passenger and thank you Jeremy.

My #KeyTakeaway is if you want to change something in your life, do something different