Can a Leopard change its spots?

Come along to discuss in Aberdeen on 27th April:

According to a December 2014 report by Ernst & Young, the North Sea Oil and Gas industry expects to see a nine percent reduction in their 375,000 strong workforce by 2019. This equates to 35,000 job losses, although they expect to see 12,000 new jobs created.

35,000 job losses based on analysis and data two years before the recent oil price volatility.

As a born-and-bred Aberdonian, I worry about the future of my home town. The same Ernst & Young report states there is enough North Sea oil and gas reserves to provide UK energy for 35 years. Others have been quick to point out there has been oil price volatility and boom and bust in Aberdeen for 50 years (boom and boom for many). But it’s different now, we absolutely cannot afford to keep producing oil and gas from the North Sea; and I am not talking hydrocarbon economics. You may side with the one in four Americans that are skeptical about climate change (so you’d enjoy John Oliver’s video at the end of this post), but your view will be changed soon or I’ll eat JR Ewing’s ten-gallon hat. Your view will not be changed by scientists, lobbyists or campaigners; but by the tide of change sweeping the insurance and pensions industries. Here’s what the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, had to say on this matter at a Lloyd’s of London City Dinner.

The Aberdeen & North East Scotland economy is under serious threat, and even if it takes 35 years to unfold, there must be plans put in place and action taken now to make transitions to new industries. It’s not just 35,000 or more oil and gas jobs at risk. It’s the “house of cards” economy that has grown around and become dependent on the oil and gas industry since the 1960’s; from accountants and lawyers, to restaurateurs, hairdressers, property developers and private health professionals. Aberdeen (used to) produce 28% of Scottish GDP being only 4% of the Scottish population, according to Campbell Dallas, so this is indeed a hefty house of cards.

I’m not pessimistic about Aberdeen’s future, quite the opposite. But it does require recognising that Aberdeen’s future is not one based on hydrocarbons. The technical and commercial skills and entrepreneurial potential amongst those 35,000+ people projected to leave the oil and gas industry are exactly the kind of skills that can create new high-growth cleantech companies.

Edinburgh has their two digital ‘unicorns‘ in SkyScanner and FanDuel and the central belt digital sector is booming, creating tens of thousands of new economy jobs. Aberdeen has an opportunity to outpace these developments, save itself from certain economic demise, and at the same time save the planet. Which would be nice.

Leopard’s can change their spots, and I encourage everyone to get involved with ClimateLaunchpad this year as a step towards this change. €105,000 per idea is up for grabs, open to anyone in the private, public or education sectors who already have or intend to set up a new venture based on their idea. Applications are open until Monday 9th May 2016:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Climate Change Debate (HBO)

Posted in Clean Tech, Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Oil and Gas Tagged with: , , , ,

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