This chapter is an introduction to the most important topics regarding the crude oil market. Several data and facts of the market are briefly presented. An outstanding feature of crude oil at the core of public debates is its character as a fossil and non-renewable fuel. The chapter enlightens what this means in economic terms and how it is connected to the investigation at hand. As another issue, recent research on the oil market has, to a great part, focused on the driving forces of the oil price. In particular, our interest is in the question of whether economic fundamentals are the only factors influencing the price or whether speculation may also be effective. Finally, the role of OPEC and its potential power to impact on the oil market is considered.
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Melissa K. Scanlan
The current global economic system, which is fueled by externalizing environmental costs, growing exponentially, consuming more, and a widening wealth gap between rich and poor, is misaligned to meet the climate imperative to rapidly reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). Amidst this system breakdown as we reach the end of the Industrial Age, the new economy movement has emerged to provide an alternative approach where ecological balance, wealth equity, and vibrant democracy are central to economic activity. Laws are the fundamental infrastructure that undergirds our economic and political system. Environmental law is typically conceived as a set of rules that establish pollutant limits for specific waterbodies, protect an identified species, or direct an industry to use a required technology. Although necessary, these types of law do not address the fundamentals of our political economy, and the most dramatic failure of environmental law is seen in increasing amounts of GHGs and global climate disruption. In order to develop a new economic system that is aligned with a climate and economic justice imperative, we need laws that will facilitate the new system and discourage the old. This chapter discusses systems thinking and systems change, highlighting leverage points to achieve change. It gives an overview of the new economy movement that has emerged to provide a new narrative, and using a systems lens, identifies areas where the law needs to evolve to facilitate building a more sustainable, equitable, and democratic future.