[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the September 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

Trip and Kelly had been classmates at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School where they both took the energy concentration. Thereafter, Trip went to work for a Texas oil and gas midstream company while Kelly took a job in sustainability and electric power in North Carolina. Three years passed and they met at a school reunion. It didn’t take long for sharp differences over the energy transition to surface and though this scenario is fictitious, it does take a stab at surfacing what many actually think on both sides of the energy transition debate. It also illustrates the ongoing “dialogue of the deaf.” How true are these strongly felt views? Let’s unpack them and see if there is any sort of pathway to common ground.

One way to seek out that common ground is to explore the assumptions hidden inside each side’s narrative. Once these surface, the actual areas of disagreement can be discussed. There is also a need to acknowledge the self-interests and political strategies in play. These cause both sides to focus unstintingly on their own story lines. We’ll examine the hidden assumptions and associated stratagems below as regards to three large questions: 1) What is climate science saying that’s really settled? 2) How committed is the oil industry to participating in the energy transition? and 3) To what extent is the environmental community’s version of the energy transition unrealistic and/or internally contradictory?

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