While drastically low gas prices may not mean anything more than savings at the pump for the average American consumer, shifts in global oil prices and production could bring the Middle East to the precipice of transformation. The flooded oil market—the result of U.S. production of shale oil (which has almost doubled since 2009) and Iran’s recent release from sanctions—indicates that oil’s role in the world is fundamentally shifting. While temporary drops and spikes in oil prices are nothing new, this time around, oil is also being displaced by increasingly accessible and affordable forms of clean energy. The progress made at the recent Paris Climate Accords suggests the inevitability of the world’s shift off of fossil fuels and toward clean energy in the coming decades. Oil’s demotion within the global economy could lead to major increases in unrest, refugee migration, and poverty within the OPEC nations that are primarily dependent on exporting oil.

Read the full introduction on Reinvent’s website.

Phyllis Bennis is the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.  

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