At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?

Writing in The New York Review of Books, Bill McKibben reviews two recent papers on climate change. The first is by Kingsmill Bond, a UK financial analyst. It is titled: “2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming.

The central question Bond asks in his paper is this: “At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?”

McKibben says that “this may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions—horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones—it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you’d think.”

He goes on to say: “Major technological transitions often take a while. . . . But the economic effect of those transitions can happen much earlier . . . as soon as it becomes clear to investors that a new technology is accounting for all the growth in a particular sector.”

As I consider the implications of this paper, I see the possibility that investors will be alert to all of this, and will bail out very quickly once the precipitous downward slope of the graph is definitive: they will cut their losses and run. This, along with other climate-related indicators will undermine the confidence of the super-wealthy, prompting them to protect their wealth in ways that create a destructive feedback-loop leading to unprecedented economic disruption and societal collapse. Read more . . .

2020 Vision: why you should see the fossil fuel peak coming

The peak in fossil fuel demand will have a dramatic impact on financial markets in the 2020s. This is one of the major reasons we will see a societal collapse in the 2020s. The transition to renewable energy sources is a minefield of risks, dislocations, and oscillations for investors and nation states.

The global energy system is transitioning from a system mainly based on fossil fuels to one mainly based on renewable energy sources. The shift will involve near-term peaking of fossil fuel demand, an S curve of renewable growth, and the endgame for fossil fuel demand.


The amounts at risk are colossal –
Investors face three types of risk from the energy transition – systemic, country, and stock specific. The systemic risk to investors comes from the fact that the fossil fuel sector has $25 trillion of fixed assets which is increasingly vulnerable to stranding as the energy transition progresses.

Kingsmill Bond

Read full report HERE. View video interview below.

Kingsmill has worked as a sell-side City equity analyst and strategist for over 20 years, including for Deutsche Bank, Troika Dialog and Citibank in London, Hong Kong and Moscow. He has written strategy on emerging markets and global themes, including the wider significance of the shale revolution. He worked for many years in Russia, which is the world’s largest exporter of fossil fuels, and deeply impacted by the transition.
Kingsmill has an MA in History from Cambridge University, trained as an accountant (CIMA), and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).