Existing literature on energy transitions lacks a systematic account of how the destabilization of incumbent carbon-intensive industries is influenced by their socio-spatial embeddedness on regional, national and global scales. This might result in overestimating the potential for reorientation in old industrial regions. Combining the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle (DILC) model with insights from the geography of transitions, we analyse the destabilization of the Estonian oil shale industry in response to climate change between 1995 and 2016. The findings show that the embeddedness of the industry on regional and national scales, reproduced by a number of different strategies, has served as a vital source of restabilization in the face of global destabilizing pressures. Policies aimed at redirecting incumbent unsustainable industries need to start from disembedding them from their socio-spatial ties.