Thu, 21 Mar 2019, 12:00
Imperial College London, London (UK), Room 408, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, South Kensington Campus, London, SW7 2AZ
Launch event at Imperial College London
To envisage a transition away from fossil fuels, understanding how we arrived at current unsustainable consumption levels is crucial.
The talk will propose ways of studying fossil fuel use – and particularly rapid consumption growth since the mid 20th century – through the lens of global history. Historians need to synthesise an understanding of both the technological systems by and through which fuels are consumed, and the social and economic systems in which they are embedded.
Turning-points in consumption patterns, such as the expansion of fuel-intensive industries in the rich world after the second world war; the recovery of demand after the 1970s oil price shocks; and the effect of globalisation and the “third technological revolution” from the 1980s; will be considered.
Study of these interwoven histories may help us to understand, first, the political history of the international climate negotiations, and, second, the negotiations’ disastrous failure to achieve their central aim, i.e. to reverse fossil fuel consumption growth.
The talk will discuss the quantitative methods used to research consumption, and consider the relative importance of individual final-use consumption, and consumption by and through technological and economic systems.