Energy consultant a top social media influencer with Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore

16 March 2018

A consultant from Navigant has been named one of the globe’s top 20 energy influencers. Kees van der Leun might not be a household name, but the list sees him rubbing shoulders with the likes of Tesla’s Elon Musk, actor Leonardo Di Caprio and even out-ranking former US Vice President Al Gore.

Onalytica is an information technology services firm that offers influencer relationship management and predictive analytics software, and the professional services firm has released a ranking of the world’s most prominent climate figures on social media.

Researchers looked analysed over 230,000 posts from top social media influencers on a range of future of energy subjects – including hot topics such as clean energy, fossil fuels, fracking, geothermal energy, nuclear energy, oil, and green energy, between November 2017 to January 2018.

The top 25 ‘future of energy’ influencers on social media

The top ten was understandably dominated by keystone figures of America’s political and media elite. Democratic Party State Governors Andrew Cuomo, Jay Inslee and Kate Brown hold the peak of the list, followed by Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg, American environmentalist, author, and journalist Bill McKibben. Rounding off the top ten were heavyweights Brad Plumer, climate change reporter for the New York Times, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, director-general of the Directorate-General for Energy within the European Commission Dominique Ristori, David Roberts of Vox, and former Academy Awards nominee Mark Ruffalo.

Surprisingly, however, just outside the top ten, on par with Oscar-winning actor-turned climate campaigner Leonardo Di Caprio, Onalytica ranks Dutch consultant Kees van der Leun as one of the world’s most influential social media presences, regarding climate and energy sciences. Van der Leun has been working in sustainable energy consulting for over three decaddes, for Ecofys, a Netherlands based consultancy.

The Dutchman, who is active online mainly thorugh his Twitter account of some 20,000 followers – @Sustainable2050 – joined Ecofys as its third employee and was involved in the management of Ecofys ever since, even remaining after it was acquired by Navigant in 2016. As a Director at Ecofys he develops strategies for energy infrastructure of the future, both large-scale (North Sea energy system) and bottom-up (zero-emission heating of homes and its implications for energy infrastructure). Van der Leun is a self-described “infovore” and an author of numerous reports, notably including The Energy Report, a thorough global scenario showing how the world could reach 100% percent renewable energy by 2050.

Van der Leun is no stranger to the top table of energy influencers, having previously been named a top-10 energy Tweeter by the Guardian newspaper in the UK, as well as being an ever-present in the top-100 global Sustmeme Climate & Energy impact ranking. Now, though, alongside being listed in his home nation of the Netherlands, as one of the top ‘Sustainable 100’, Van der Leun can also claim a greater social media influence on the subject of climate change than a former Vice President of the United States, as Democratic politician and maker of world-renowned climate change documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Al Gore, ranks just behind Van der Leun.



WEF finds no progress made on greening economy

01 April 2019

The reports of two influential bodies, in the space of a day, have warned that no progress is being made to prevent major climate change. The World Economic Forum has warned that greening of the global energy transition has stagnated over last five years, while the International Energy Agency has confirmed coal use rose again last year.

The position of the Academies of Science from 80 countries, plus a majority of scientific organisations that study climate science, is that humans are causing rapid climate change – often referred to as global warming. Roughly 95% of active climate researchers publishing climate papers endorse the consensus position that since the industrial revolution, the boom in carbon emissions from fossil fuel powered human activity has heavily impacted the planet, with rising levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases trapping heat from the sun causing global temperatures to rise – something which will have catastrophic results in the near future.

Despite the steadfast consensus among the scientific community on the matter, however, there has been little to no meaningful action to avert disaster. In fact, while the signing of the Paris Accord was met with great excitement, since it came into force, global carbon dioxide emissions have continued to rise. Today, they sit at their highest levels yet, after a strong economy and extreme weather stoked a surge in energy demand last year.WEF finds no progress made on greening economyAccording to the world’s energy watchdog, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), energy spiked by 2.3% in 2018 – the biggest leap since 2010 – with that demand largely being met with fossil fuels. As a result, global emissions of carbon dioxide hit the record high of 33 billion tonnes in 2018, a rise of 1.7% on 2017’s figures. Commenting on the findings, IEA chief Fatih Birol said the rise in energy demand was “exceptional” and a “surprise for many.”

Birol added, “We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade. Looking at the global economy in 2019, it will be rather a surprise to see the same level of growth as 2018.”

The suggestion from Birol that 2018 is likely to be an anomaly which will not be seen again is strange, considering the added strain which the boom in emissions will place on the environment. To suggest that heightened energy demand was driven by extreme weather – which is increasingly difficult to claim is unrelated to man-made climate change – and then to suggest that such a thing is unlikely to occur any time soon in spite of emissions having increased seems contradictory.

Regardless of this, the bad news was further compounded within hours of the IEA’s release. A report from the World Economic Forum released on the same day concluded that the world's energy systems have not become any greener in the last five years. Despite the agreement of global climate targets, falling green power costs, and mounting public and business concern over the catastrophic impacts runaway climate change could wreak, the WEF’s damning assessment warned that little to no progress has been made on making energy systems more environmentally sustainable since 2014.

Coal is the largest hindrance of change on this front, according to the report. Recent years have seen improvements in energy access and security, but far too many nations remain dependent on coal power for the new energy systems to have made any environmental gains. At the same time, major economies have failed to decrease or even slow the amount of energy they use per unit of GDP, leaving smaller actors who have made changes micturating into a gale. Change on the part of the world’s largest economies is therefore crucial to driving the development of a greener, more efficient global economy, the WEF concluded.

Commenting on the findings, Roberto Bocca, leader of the WEF's future of energy and materials division, said urgent action is now needed to move toward decarbonisation. He added, "We need a future where energy is affordable, sustainable and accessible to all. Solid progress in bringing energy within the reach of more and more people is not enough to mask wider failures, which are already having an impact on our climate and on our societies."

The news comes even as sustainability continues to be talked about as a ‘top agenda item’ at the majority of the world’s largest corporations. While 85% say that it will be more important still in another five years, it is clear that the majority of the world’s most powerful businesses are failing to walk the talk on the matter, regardless of what governments do.