Managing the Decline of Fossil Fuels: A Long Goodbye?

  • Geoffrey WoodEmail author


The contributions to this book highlight a number of challenges and frustrations, opportunities and surprises facing attempts to manage the decline of fossil fuels, representing a complex interplay of factors, both optimistic and pessimistic and often a mixture of both, as the world grapples with the shift towards a low-carbon energy future. In addition to specific conclusions drawn from the individual contributions, this chapter emphasises two distinctive conclusions regarding the need to manage the decline of fossil fuels. First, although the energy system is in a state of flux between the old (conventional, centralised, high carbon) and the new (alternative, decentralised, low carbon) no new state has been achieved. And, despite progress to date, the ‘tipping point’ between the states has yet to be reached. This is the paradox of energy transition: growth in renewables and low-carbon energy sources but no concomitant decline in fossil fuels overall. Second, and more positive, there are clear signs of system change and transition, evidenced in the energy systems of many nations across the world. In short, traditional approaches are being queried and found lacking and alternative approaches are becoming mainstream and normalised. This book shows that it is possible to manage the decline of fossil fuels. So the question remains, is there sufficient time left to do so within the urgent timeframe that we as a species have set ourselves?


Systems change Energy transitions Fossil fuels Renewables Tipping point 


  1. Wood, G. 2017. Has Renewable Energy Reached the ‘Tipping Point’? Sputnik News, January 12, 2017.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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