CEO and founder of GeoModes, Piotr Przybylo, spoke to Green.Org about the importance of fully understanding what sustainability means and its impact. GeoModes is a consulting company that focuses on empowerment and education of individuals working in the energy sector.
Hi Piotr, could you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have spent my entire professional career working for the energy industry across four continents and 12 different countries getting to know the industry inside out. As a young professional I even worked on offshore oil rigs drilling horizontal oil and gas wells. Throughout my career I have managed a variety of international projects spanning across strategy, programme and project management, cultural change, change management and communication. Recently I have been fully committed to educating professionals through GeoModes, a company which provides a totally different, human approach to acquiring knowledge. This is something that has not been done yet in the industry.
What is a fun fact about you?
I love learning new things. The time when one diploma allowed you to work professionally your entire life is long gone. With the world changing that fast you need to constantly upgrade yourself, re-skilling and up-skilling. I already have three master’s degrees, each acquired in a different language that I speak. I am currently also starting a PhD. Learning and acquiring knowledge is a never ending process and this is also what GeoModes stands for. You need to be curious about the surrounding world to fully benefit from it and enjoying living in it.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
A bigger picture is required with energy consumers changing their habits. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the topic. For example, buying an electric car will not resolve the problem because the raw materials required for production are scarcer than oil or gas and they unfortunately occur in a very few places in the world. Sourcing raw materials for electric vehicle batteries is currently not sustainable, not to mention the lack of any strategy for dismantling and recycling old used batteries and disposing of them as hazardous waste afterwards. Most people are not aware that minimising effects of climate change and becoming more sustainable requires a cultural change not just an industrial change. I am describing this in detail in my recently published book – “Human Energy Transition – the missing factor”.
I am always surprised that the oil and gas industry is portrayed as the main and predominantly only cause of climate change by people who use fossil fuel products on a daily basis without even thinking. Properly addressing climate change and its consequences will never occur without changing the energy industry. However, it will also never change without a bigger understanding of human daily habits. This is where GeoModes has a role to play, as our mission is to educate how we can transform the energy industry to be more sustainable without creating energy deficits for regular people. Please remember that access to energy is one of the most important factors to fight poverty, accessing fresh water, working medical services and providing food.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Whether people like it or not, oil & gas is not going anywhere at least for another 50 years. The recent increase in energy prices, partially caused by the war in Ukraine, proves this perfectly. Renewables will not replace fossil fuel fast enough, not to mention that we have not learnt how to utilise them in a fully sustainable way. I envision the energy industry being culturally changed, working together with governments and societies on developing more “regionally” available energy. Not every country is solar energy efficient, similarly wind efficiency is difficult to achieve in others. A sustainable energy mix is achievable across the world with governments being less cynical about their net-zero strategies. Denmark for example highlights achieving its net zero emission targets on a national level, but will soon be in the position where almost all carbon-emission heavy products consumed, are imported from other producing countries. Simply put, this is a misunderstanding of the concept of global carbon emission and lack of transparency. Shifting carbon emissions to less developed countries must stop and should not be overused by richer countries. Carbon emission import – export tax on a product level should be a priority globally and the industry has a huge role to play here together with the governments.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
As mentioned previously, the energy transition is also human transition, and it is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves about what sustainability really means for their life. An average person should not be fooled by consumer marketing strategies to convince them what is “green” and what is not. Driving an electric car is not green if you charge your batteries by energy produced from burning gas or oil. A perfect example is the region in Poland where I come from: a few local coal mines were closed, forcing thousands of people to look for employment elsewhere. The knock-on effect of working further away from home was they were forced to buy cars to commute to other parts of the country on a daily basis. A decade later, the overall yearly carbon emission of this region is much higher than it was with the coal mines functioning if you include 1. the carbon emission of producing new cars that were purchased; and 2. the daily emission from the thousands of people now commuting. I am not saying burning coal is good, but this could have been done in a different, more sustainable way. Again, full transparency is required and every one of us should be aware of what sustainability means.