Adam Newton

Manager, Global Strategy Team, Shell
The Hague, Netherlands

About Adam

Bio

Adam is responsible for social and cultural insights within Shell's Strategy team. His focus areas include scenario planning in the areas of urbanisation and city development, behavioural sciences, and emerging environmental and resource stresses linked to water, food and energy. Previously Adam worked for Shell's global media team and the UK government.

Languages

English, French, Spanish

Areas of Expertise

Scenario Planning, Reputation Management, Politics (better than any idiot in parliament)

An idea worth spreading

If we create new forms of collaboration and start planning better cities we will make a major contribution to creating a sustainable future for the planet..... That and that 80% of success in life is showing up!

I'm passionate about

Diving, photography, cooking freestyle and becoming Norwegian

Universities

Cardiff

Comments & conversations

119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Lukas I think you conclude with a very reasonable set of proposals and I think in essence you have captured a number of the key insights we have drawn from the process of trying to understand cities and building plans for constructive engagement around them. Our existing scenarios work (www.shell.com/scenarios) looks at a range outcomes for energy use and considers the ways in which shifts in demand and resource availability can accelerate or surpress the diffusion of non-fossil fuel energy technologies. As we work towards the next set of scenarios we place the urban environment at the very forefront of our thinking as we recognise that cities will be the environments within which a majority of the resource constraints will occur as will the innovation to create sustainable solutions. On funding you make an excellent point. The type of consortium that could effectively plan and execute new city development against a model of better integrated urban infrastructure does not currently exist. It is clear that in such a consortium the array of skills - from planning and design, to financing and construction would be required. Already we are working hard to establish a dialogue between companies like our own and other in the technology, electronics, mobility, water and waste spaces, to consider how to create effective relationships that would be able to address the challenges that rapid urban development pose. It is a long road.....
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
I dont think George's point is that this list of solutions can be achieved easily. But it does point back to this issue if assessing the infrastructure needs of new cities and working better to plan them at the front end of development. To what extent all of the issues raised here can be managed at scale - i am not well placed to judge. On the waste point we haven't explored the many and various ways in which that can be managed. It's clear that different categories of waste water can be reused in many different ways - only some of which are currently happening in a few places. Ditto the by-products of refuse - both gas and liquids - which have a role in providing sources for power in models for modern co-generation.
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
You raise a good point on different source of water usage. It's clear that more can be done to creat sustainable water infrastrctures for cities and learn from countries like Singapore and even Cambodia who have achieved remarkable energy savings as a result of using water batter. The four national taps strategy in Singapore is a really good example of this.
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Carli A couple of comments in response to you if I may. First of all I think you are underestimating the extent of research and development in new and more efficient fuels and the increasing use of alternative liquid fuels derived from more sustainable sources of biomass - like sugar cane. Also firms are actively targeting driving behaviour to encourage motorists to get ever better performance out of their vehicle and our fuels. Similarly you see companies like ours increasingly making investments in natural gas which remains the cleanest fossil fuel and allows countries who produce and use it to produce far cleaner electricity than those which use coal for example. You are right, we don't turn drivers away for using non-efficient vehicles. We don't of course build those vehicles either and in that sense our products and services have to respond to what manufacturers build - such as more diesel cars, more efficient petrol engines, liquified and compressed natural gas fuels in some parts of the world. Our own estimates for the uptake of electric vehicles have increased as battery technologies have become more and more viable and we will see them becoming more common place - particularly in cities to begin with. It's worth noting that a new car taking to the roads today for the first time will still be running somewhere in 10-15 years. So the pace of transformation is gradual but nonetheless transformation will take place. Thanks
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Simone thanks for the direct offer of involvement in this kind of work. Our purpose in running this conversation is first to assess where our own understanding and thinking is on urban development in relation to leading thinkers and policy makers and other businesses who, like ourselves, see the importance of getting future cities right. To that end we are currently engaged in a project in China looking at models for sustainable and replicable urban development. We hope that we will go some way towards the creatio of the types of model that you refer to. At a future time it is my hope and intention that we externally socialise that work for stree testing by the crowd..... More broadly the work of Shell's scenarios group over the past 40 years has been to advance thinking for our own business and external bodies with insights and interests in shaping a different future.
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Thanks Eric and welcome the the conversation. I keep reflecting back to earlier thoughts shared in the conversation about the part that city slums play in driving growth of cities. They are, by their nature, relatively unplanned and the types of solutions to the challenges of living in the compact urban environment are unquestionably creative and often lack a complex infrastructure that is hard to unpick as you say.... How do you think we can achieve the things about slums that we want to capture - density, high levels of economic activity and conscientious conservation, recycling, etc - without the things which clearly make living there undesirable to people once they reach a certain wealth threshold - poor sanitation, associated issues with health, access to power/ water, etc.... How do you unravel the complexity of these organic settlements?
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Certainly internet and mobile communications are an enabler of flexible living and working. You might be interested in Edward Glaesers book - The Triumph of the City. On the particular point you make about the value of technology, Glaeser contends that the internet has made the spectacular growth of cities like Bangalore possible. But his key point here is that the city becomes more effective as a result of those technologies, but they do not substitute for effective proximity that drives innovation in cities..... Today I am working from a small ,300 year old cottage in rural Devon, England. Its enabling me to sustain this conversation and keep track of the other aspects of my job. I would question my ability to sustain effective, productive work on the range of complex issues and challenges associated with my job without the ability to work in and travel to cities.... I make the point only by means of an illustration that technology enables that which we already do - maybe enhances it. But it does not substitute face to face engagement and communications.....
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
Simone You have captured part of what I am saying. It is my-our contention that inefficient planning for the needs of a new-growing city, up front, you risk locking in a profile of consumption + energy, water, mobility, etc, which is higher than it would be if you found the mechanism to aggregate those things at the first stage of planning development.... Some of your suggestions for the retrofitting existing cities have their place. Though I would arguethat an effective means of driving a change in perspective-behaviour amongst city-dwellers and citizens would need to happen and we all know - not least policy makers - that creating a change without doing very unpopular things to taxation and costs of living is a tall order. I think your vision of smaller, cell like developments, has a place in the fabric of existing, developing cities. However I think the utopian ideal of a world of small, sustainable towns, whilst desireable, is not a solution. As I have mentioned in other threads, the work of Geoffrey West at Santa Fe Institute is compelling on this point. When a city doubles in size its energy needs typically only increase by a factor of 0.8. There are energy economies of scale.... So I return to the fundamental point of the conversation. An equivalent of a new city of 1 million people a week will be created over the next 30 years. Two-thirds of the infrastructure associated with that growth is yet to be developed. Therefore we have an opportunity to get that development right in places like China, India and rapidly emerging economies.
119449
Adam Newton
Posted about 4 years ago
A conversation with Shell: How can we create a future where every city has reliable energy, clean water and enough to eat?
You're right to point out that the city scape is shaped by the underlying transport infrastructure that serves - and in some cases dominates - it! When you look, in particular at cities in North America, the underlying assumptions made about the long term costs of gas at the time of urban developments pushed a model of urban development supported principally by the motor car. It's resulted in large sprawling cities which are incredibly difficult and costly retrofit for mass public transportation. I have referred to the issue of density in other threads to this conversation and it's clear from the model of cities like Singapore and Hong Kong that dense development and integrated transportation systems that th energy benefits are locked in. This has to be a priority in emerging economies, notably China but also India and other parts of developing Asia. Thanks for your contributions.