Wednesday, December 12, 2007

David Ferguson - EDF Energy

How old are you?

What’s your occupation and who do you work for?
I am Head of Corporate Responsibility Strategy at EDF Energy, one of the biggest energy companies in the UK.

How long have been doing this?
About three years

What is it about your job that makes it ethical?
I am responsible for developing the sustainability strategy for the company. This means persuading the business to make ethical, long-term decisions that are in-line with the future needs of people and the planet. EDF Energy has a carbon footprint roughly equal to that of Tunisia, so there is a scope to make a huge difference.

What’s the best bit about your job?
Successes. We’ve had a few.

What’s the worst thing?
Meeting people who don’t see the need to change

What have the last 12 months been like for you?
Eye opening. Being an optimist I’d like to think that we’ve seen a step-change in efforts to combat climate change, suddenly it’s front page news. Al Gore and Nicholas Stern have made a huge contribution. This has made my job of persuading the business to change a lot easier. In fact, in June 2007 we launched something we called ‘Our Climate Commitments’. It’s a bit like a political manifesto in that it sets out how we will massively reduce our climate change impact between now and 2020. The headline target is a 60% reduction in the carbon intensity of our electricity generation.

What were you doing before this?
I was a consultant for a couple of years, working with companies that were just starting to think about corporate responsibility. Before that I did a Masters course at Imperial College, and before that I was a travelling, climbing bum.

What was your very first full-time job?
Apart from working in supermarkets, factories and climbing shops my first ‘grown up’ job was as a consultant.

What advice would you give to someone wishing to embark on the same sort of work as you?
Easy: be passionate but rational. The need for change is immense and immediate but I am always required to provide a business case to justify why reducing our carbon footprint is a sensible thing to do.

Have you got any plans for the next 12 months you’d like to share with us?
As an energy company we’ve focussed mainly on climate change as our key challenge. But it’s not our only challenge and we’re looking at the wider social impacts of our business. We will soon launch a set of ambitious commitments along the same lines as Our Climate Commitments but focussing on our social impacts and responsibilities.

What do you do to relax?
I am a keen rock climber and love travelling, although I’ve been cutting back on flying in the last couple of years which has meant that I spend more time climbing and travelling in the UK.

Who do you live with?
My girlfriend

Whereabouts do you live?
North London

If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you would do?
I’d impose exorbitant tax on personalised number plates. Honestly, more than a billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day so if you have money to waste on a personalised number plate then there are more useful things you could do with it. On a slightly more serious note I think the first big challenge would be to make carbon part of the way we price things, perhaps through a personal carbon allowance.

As cheap and easily available oil is expect to run out in the next couple of decades, what do you think will be the predominant form of transport in 2027?
Electric cars. But we need to get a move on. There’s lots of expensive oil still waiting to be extracted.

Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
I drive a campervan. It’s not very efficient, so I don’t drive it much. And I got it to help wean me off long-distance flights.

What have you done that you were most proud of?
Getting a distinction in my Masters degree. I’m not very academic and I worked very hard.

What single issue are you most concerned about in the world at large?
Our obsession with buying stuff. And religion.

Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why?
Richard Dawkins for his championing of sensible, rational thought.

What’s your website address?

What are your three favourite other websites of the moment? (not at work, of course)

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