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Dr Jeremy Leggett is a social entrepreneur and writer. He founded and is a director of Solarcentury, an international solar solutions company (1998 - present), and founded and is chair of SolarAid, a charity funded with 5% of Solarcentury’s annual profits that builds solar lighting markets in Africa (2006 – present). He chaired Carbon Tracker, a climate-and-finance think tank analysing climate risk in the capital markets, from its start in 2010 until 2017. He was the first winner of the first Hillary Laureate for International Leadership in Climate Change (2009), has won a Gothenburg Prize (2015), and was the first non-Dutch winner of a Royal Dutch Honorary Sustainability Award (2016). He has been described in the Observer as “Britain’s most respected green energy boss”. He is author of four books, the most recent of which is The Winning of The Carbon War, an account of what he sees as the “turnaround years” in the dawn of the global energy transition, 2013 -2015, with an update edition spanning 2016 and 2017. He continues to chronicle that transition, and its intersection with the information revolution, in a blog (www.jeremyleggett.net) and a column in Impact4All magazine. His other books are The Carbon War (2000), an eye-witness account of the climate negotiations in the 1990s; Half Gone (2005), an account of the interaction between oil depletion and climate change; The Solar Century (2009), a vision of the solar revolution; and The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance (2013). He lectures on short courses in business and society at the Universities of Cambridge (UK) and St Gallen (Switzerland).
In a first career, Leggett went straight from a D.Phil in earth science at Oxford to the faculty at the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College (1978 – 1989), researching earth history as preserved in strata including shale deposits, funded among others by BP and Shell. In this phase, he won the President’s Prize of the Geological Society and was appointed a Reader at the age of 33. He also set up the Verification Technology Information Centre (VERTIC), and served part-time as its first executive director for four years (1985-1989) during the tail end of the Cold War, in which time he also served on the board of Pugwash UK.
Becoming concerned about global warming, he resigned from Imperial College to become a climate campaigner with Greenpeace International (1989 – 1996). In this phase, he won the US Climate Institute’s Award for Advancing Understanding.
In his third phase, Leggett led Solarcentury as CEO from 1997 until 2006, was Chairman from 2006 to 2015, and a board director from 2015 to the present. The company has won multiple awards for innovation and sustainability, including the Sunday Times / Microsoft TechTrack 100 R&D Award (2006), the FT / Treasury Inner City 100 Greenest Company Award (2007), and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in
Innovation (2011). His awards include Entrepreneur of the Year at the New Energy Awards, UK Climate Week's Most Inspirational Person Award, Outstanding Individual Award at the international Solar Industry Awards (2013), Champion of the Year in promoting the green economy at the Business Green Leaders Awards (2014), and Outstanding Individual Award at the Solar Power Portal Awards (2015). SolarAid's non-profit retail brand SunnyMoney has won a BITC / Unilever Global Development Award (2017).
Leggett was a CNN Principal Voice (2007) and served on UK government advisory bodies including the Renewables Advisory Board (2002 – 2006). He convened the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security, a pan-industry group warning of a systemic oil-depletion risk to economies (2007-2013), which evolved into the Transatlantic Energy Security Dialogue (2013-2014), co-convened with Lt Col. Daniel Davis (US Army). He served on the New Energy Architecture Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum (2012 - 2014), a group which among other things works on "black swans" in energy markets. He was a non–executive director of New Energies Invest AG, a private equity fund investing in renewable energy (2000-14).