BLOG – 02.19.21

Seeing Both Sides Now

Hello, I’m Kitty. I’m a consultant in Xodus Group’s Renewable Energy team where I predominantly do research into offshore wind supply chains and stakeholder engagement, plus any other odd bits and bobs required by the Powers That Be.

I didn’t come to Renewable Energy via the most conventional route. I studied Philosophy for my undergraduate degree, which was fascinating, gave me insight into lots of different subjects (you can study the philosophy of anything), and taught me how to win arguments. It did not, however, lend itself to any immediate career path. So, after numerous rejections based on “relevant” degree requirements, I decided to study a Masters degree in Carbon Management. Climate Change is the defining crisis of our time and this course explored the issues, solutions, and issues with the solutions from scientific, economic, and business perspectives. I knew I wanted a career that would help tackle this crisis and, given that burning fossil fuels is what got us into this mess, I decided that renewable energy would be a good place to start.

Which is how I ended up working for an oil and gas consultancy. For most of its existence, Xodus’ work has supported the ever more efficient drilling of oil and gas across the world. This is an uncomfortable truth for someone like me, who viewed fossil fuels as the enemy and those that mined them as money-loving, planet-hating villains. I could placate my conscience with the fact that I was in the nascent Renewables Team, at least, so my work wasn’t directly supporting fossil fuels. But the truth is that my pay comes from those whose pay comes from fossil fuels – one degree of separation allowing for the veneer of acceptability but not exactly a strong leg to stand on.

Since starting at Xodus, a couple of things have changed my views on this. First, I learned about Xodus’ company vision: “Together we will deliver a responsible energy future”. A truly responsible energy future is one that aligns with the targets of the Paris Agreement and recognises the need to decarbonise. But it is also one that recognises that the way in which we decarbonise is critical. The world could stop consuming fossil fuels tomorrow and it is not hyperbolic to say that millions of people would die. Supply chains would collapse, crop yields would plummet, hospitals and schools and homes would be without power, there would be mass civil unrest, etc. This cure would be worse than the disease. Instead, we need to urgently adapt our systems and transition them away from fossil fuels towards truly sustainable energy sources. This takes time and means that, for now, fossil fuels are still needed and still need our support. I’ve come to terms with this.

Second was the realisation that Xodus is not an oil and gas consultancy (something I should probably have picked up on given that I was in the Renewables team). Xodus is an energy transition consultancy that is transitioning alongside the sector it supports. There is symbiosis with Xodus changing to support a changing sector, and in turn supporting others to change too. A responsible energy future involves a just transition away from fossil fuels whilst ensuring equitable, global access to energy. It involves skills development, and innovative application of existing knowledge and abilities to new areas and challenges. It involves adaptation and reinvention. It involves all manner of exciting buzzwords, but it also involves the hard reality of the ending of an industry and a way of being. There are two sides to the story, and I am slowly learning to see them both.

Each week, I’ll be writing on the different aspects of the energy transition that I encounter and experience through working at Xodus. There will be lots of thoughts and analysis on the latest developments in the offshore wind and hydrogen sectors because this is my bread and butter. But I’ll also be learning more about what the rest of the business is up to, interviewing and talking to my colleagues in other teams to reflect their experiences, perspectives, and insights on an energy landscape in flux. So keep an eye on this space and join me as I document the energy transition in real time and explore what working towards a responsible energy future truly entails.

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