Any realistic future scenario envisages a drastic drop in consumption of fossil fuels - whether as a response to greenhouse gases or to peak oil. I will be considering two basic visions for a society with a very much reduced budget of fossil fuels. One vision assumes that we could make use of alternative energy to power an affluent growth economy. This scenario, which we may all the technological optimist vision, sees much about our societies today as able to be maintained, and that the basic economic structure of capitalism will remain viable. A different vision is based on the premise that there is no alternative energy that is remotely as cheap or abundant as fossil fuels have been. This is partly a matter of cost -the more energy costs, the less you can have of it- and partly of absolute capacity; for example, there is a limit to the good sites for wind energy. Given a reduced energy budget and an absolute cap on energy expansion, there is no possibility of a capitalist growth economy. We could aptly refer to this scenario as a low energy future.
Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society p. 280-296