Energy & Climate
The oil crises of the 1970s provoked debate about the finite limits of energy resources and triggered increases in energy efficiency and innovations in the production of alternative fuels.
Yet despite these developments, the following decades saw energy consumption increase dramatically, first in the global North and then in the South. For all that, electric power is still scarce and unreliable in many developing countries such as India, Indonesia and most African states.
If these countries increase their use of fossil fuels to meet the rising energy demands of their growing populations, while established major emitters fail to reduce their emissions dramatically, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to unmanageable global warming.
Since 1992, the international community has negotiated successive agreements that now aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero levels in the second part of this century.
These agreements assume an intensifying effort to replace fossil fuels by renewable energy sources and significant improvements in the energy efficiency of industries, transport, and cities. However, the need for rapid emission reductions goes well beyond what a transition to non-carbon based fuels can provide – raising questions about geoengineering and other potential technologies and their impacts.
The need for rapid emissions cuts, alongside growing global demand for (renewable) energy, raise critical questions about the technological potential and socio-economic and political implications of various technologies and approaches.
University of Bayreuth