20 questions with… Jeremy Leggett



Jeremy Leggett answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Leggett is a social entrepreneur and author. He chairs renewable energy firm Solarcentury and the Carbon Tracker thinktank. In a former life, he was a geologist and a consultant to the oil industry.

His latest book, The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance, is available to buy now.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

To make as big a difference as I can in combatting climate change. That breaks into three sub-missions across the organisations I chair. First, with Solarcentury, to create the most respected solar solutions company in the world. Second, with SolarAid, to rid Africa of kerosene lanterns by 2020. And third, with Carbon Tracker, to align the capital markets with climate policymaking.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Er, I rather regret to say, a professional golfer.

How would your friends describe you?

Driven, fun on occasion.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

A talk on climate change, long before it was fashionable to worry about it. It was at a Pugwash conference during the Cold War, in a room full of retired and active Soviet and American nuclear weapons scientists.

Who or what inspires you?

The brave.

What really grinds your gears?

Politicians who think they can frack their way to cheap gas in the UK. Or even any gas, worth speaking of.

Describe your perfect day.

Sun in the garden, the prospect of a day working from my office at home, lunch and dinner with the wife, a long run with the dog, fine wine at six.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

A pond, a bank of huge oak trees around it, fields beyond and a ridge of Wealden sandstone on the skyline. On occasion, a kingfisher surveying the pond from a tree 20ft away from me.

What do you like spending your money on?

Good food and wine, in various Kentish pubs, as host to friends and family.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?


What’s your favourite book?

The Road.

What’s your favourite film?


You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Employ a Carbon Army to retrofit the nation with energy efficiency and microgeneration, starting with the government estate. So saving the national combined account a tonne of money. Oh, and becoming the greenest government ever.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

Haddy N’jie, for her singing.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

The best: raise capital when you can, not when you need to. The worst: looks to me like you need a nightcap.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?


What’s your biggest regret?

You really want me to commit that irrevocably to the entire online universe?

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

In the developed world, insulate your home. In the developing world, replace your kerosene lantern with a solar lantern.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

Routine recognition in the capital markets that carbon fuel ‘assets’ are at risk of stranding.

What’s your favourite quote?

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy

Jeremy Leggett is a social entrepreneur and author. His latest book, The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance, is available to buy now.

Further reading:

The climate clock is ticking. Normal isn’t working. What should we do differently?

Majority of Britons unaware of ‘carbon bubble’ investment risks

From ethics to sustainability: shifting the investment debate for 2014

Investors worth $3tn put pressure on fossil fuels industry to rethink future

Are pension funds serving their purpose?


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