HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs


At the turn of the century, environmentalists and “Big Oil” appeared to be moving toward one another. With the world anticipating a global climate change agreement, companies like Shell and BP made large-scale investments in renewables. Shell was running the world’s largest solar power–producing plant in Germany in 2004. BP had not only invested billions of dollars in renewable energies and low-carbon technologies, it also redesigned its logo to resemble the sun and even declared in 2000 that its name stood not for British Petroleum but “better people, better products, big picture, beyond petroleum.” Big Oil was no doubt motivated to explore cleaner energy sources in part by “the end of easy oil,” whereas greens saw a future reliant on fossil fuels as environmentally unsustainable. Environmentalists and Big Oil did not necessarily agree on the problem, but they seemed in consensus on the prescription: the need to develop alternatives to fossil fuel energy.


O'Sullivan, Meghan. "Where Big Oil Meets Big Green." American Interest, September 28, 2017.