Version 3.2

Systemic vulnerability to fossil fuels – Too central to fail?

Phasing-out fossil fuels is an urgent, mandatory imperative to increase the chances of human survival on Earth. The global economy can be conceptualized as a highly complex network of interacting and interdependent economic sectors whose functioning is highly dependent on fossil fuels. Any energy transition away from fossil fuels will have to deal with this reality in its decarbonization processes. How the impacts of phasing out fossil fuels could cascade through the economy given this complex interconnectedness is a less investigated phenomenon. In this paper, we combine the application of the Leontief Price Model – derived from Input-Output Analysis - to simulate Peak Fossil Fuel (oil, gas and coal) and Network Analysis to assess the systemic importance of sectors within the economic system. Then, we construct global and national vulnerability maps of the economy to unveil the vulnerability of systemically important economic sectors to fossil fuel, and how they have evolved through time. We show how vulnerability is spread across the board and how systematically important sectors have increased their vulnerability to fossil fuels. The vulnerability of economic sectors involved in the energy transition, such as mining and manufacturing of minerals and metals, or vital industries for the reproduction of Modernity - the steel and cement industry, plastics and chemicals - puts the whole system at risk. We conclude by discussing how these sectors may hold a highly problematic leverage power in the decarbonization process.


Day: 2023-09-01
Start time: 12:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-KC-1
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Hegemonic worldviews and degrowth horizon


Concurrent Sessions