The combination of market forces and changing public sensibilities are driving a major shift in the energy landscape. The need for renewable energy to combat climate change is incontrovertible, while a plethora of warnings tell us that we are rapidly exhausting our carbon budgets. Ending fossil fuels is a mathematical imperative if we are to have a chance of keeping temperatures from rising above the upper threshold limit of 1.5 – 2.0 C. In 2016 we were already seeing how diminishing profits were contributing to the fall of fossil fuel and the rise of renewables In 2020 the momentum away from fossil fuels is undeniable. They are being shunned by investors, insurance companies and banks. Fossil fuels are approaching the end of their life cycle while renewables are becoming increasingly attractive due to the declining cost of solar and storage.
In the U.S. Donald Trump’s fossil fuel-powered politics rejects renewables and supports dirty energy. Although Trump is infamous for his corruption, Republican’s fossil fuel-powered corruption has been driving the party for years before Trump came on the scene.
Evidence for the demise of the fossil fuel industry is evident in Canada where the Teck mine, the largest tarsands mine ever proposed, has become the latest casualty of changing market dynamics and public attitudes. The disdain for dirty energy is also being felt in Australia where people are rejecting the coal-powered agenda of Scott Morrison. The polls show that people want climate action and this means we must end fossil fuels. Public attitudes are increasingly distrustful of the fossil fuel industry’s anti-climate agenda.
Countries like Sweden, Norway and Ireland are transitioning to renewables. Even MENA countries are showing clean energy leadership. However, in many parts of the world government policies are an impediment to the transition to clean energy. Despite headwinds, the solar and wind industries continued to thrive in 2019
The transition away from fossil fuels to renewables is already underway. Driven by a wide range of divestment narratives, the fossil fuel industry is losing its social license to operate. The fossil fuel industry may be dying, however, they can be expected to fight to the bitter end.