Book Chapter

Fossil Fuels in a Carbon-Constrained World



Wood G (2019) Fossil Fuels in a Carbon-Constrained World. In: Wood G & Baker K (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Managing Fossil Fuels and Energy Transitions. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 3-23.

Fossil fuels have powered the industrialisation of many nations and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people, however another century dominated by fossil fuels would probably be disastrous. On the one hand, fossil fuels are responsible for the majority of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, and projected increases in oil, gas and coal demand are incompatible with the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change. On the other hand, the demise of fossil fuels has been often predicted, they have proved remarkably resilient and with low prices and superabundant resources they are likely to play a role in world energy going forward. This chapter sets out the premise of the book, to focus attention on the need to manage the decline of fossil fuels as the world shifts towards a low-carbon energy transition. Although low carbon energy, notably renewables, has evidenced significant growth in recent decades, fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy landscape and carbon emissions are once again on the rise. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that humanity has a mere decade to limit climate change, the global energy system is therefore at a critical juncture. As this chapter argues, a nuanced understanding of the fossil fuel sector is required, given that the decline of fossil fuels, managed or otherwise, will have significant, multiple, interrelated and largely unknown repercussions as we enter a new phase of geopolitics, with resultant impacts to existing and future relations, politics and trade between countries.

Energy Transitions; Fossil Fuels; Renewable Energy; Governance; Climate Change; Geopolitics

Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online13/11/2019
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Place of publicationCham, Switzerland

People (1)


Dr Geoffrey Wood

Dr Geoffrey Wood

Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Law, Law