UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Online seminar series: Future of the Fossil Fuel Industries

26 June 2020

UCL ISR are hosting a series of events looking at the future of the fossil fuel industries. These events will take place over the coming months with a range of exciting expert speakers and respondents.

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This series of events will explore the future of the energy industry with a focus on the changing landscape for fossil fuels. Looking at longer-term visions and shorter-term implications, the series will include a wide range of speakers from industry, government, and wider social groups as well as leading academics.

Our events 

Accelerating clean energy transitions through post-COVID recovery

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC9mKF4qEY4


Speaker: Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency

Respondents: Yacob Mulugetta, UCL STEaPP and Glada Lahn, Chatham House.

Wednesday 15th July, 13:00-14:30 (BST)

Find out more

Context and Aims

The energy industries are in a state of unprecedented uncertainty, crisis and transition. Gas and then Oil prices were crumbling before Covid struck. Price levels that would have still seemed implausibly low only six months ago are now heralded as signs of recovery – yet as of July 2020, oil prices are still being propped up by agreements on production cutbacks between OPEC, Russia and the US, of dubious political durability. Demand recovery is uneven between sectors and regions.

Is this another example of the classic business cycle writ large in energy, with low prices curtailing production and stimulating soaring demand?  Have we been here before?  Or is there something fundamentally different this time?  Climate change concerns – underlined by blistering temperatures in the Arctic – combined with rapid progress in electric vehicles and economics of ‘green stimulus’ further challenge oil. 

Gas use is still growing: will it be the transition fuel – and if so, to where, and when?  And what of coal, dismissed as dead by many environmental communities but still growing in Asia, with the Indian government issuing controversial lease agreements for 41 new mines even as it rides a growing wave of solar investments? 

BP has written down almost $20bn of oilfield assets: was that premature, or far-sighted?  Shell has extended its commitment to being a zero carbon energy company.  Are these tactical effort to cut costs and losses, and project a green image - or strategic pivots to a fundamentally different energy future?  If so, what does the transition look like, and what will determine pace, the winners, and the losers?


The events will take the form of presentations from industry and academic experts, with one or two respondents, followed by a short audience Q&A. To enable depth of analysis and debate, the initial lectures will be up to 40 minutes, with 10 minutes each for discussants.  All will be held via Zoom, with broad international participation.