Global Energy Politics

Global Energy GovernanceThe world’s accelerating use of energy since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution has brought huge benefits to the majority of us, in terms of higher standards of living, more food production, and a higher life expectancy.

Yet our fossil-fuel dominated energy system has a deep, and often disturbing, impact on geopolitics, our global and local environments, and – often overlooked in standard accounts of energy security – issues of social justice.

Today, that fossil-based system is being reshaped by several megatrends. First, climate change, if left unchecked, is posing an existential threat to life as we know it on our planet. Since 80% percent of all CO2 emissions stem from our combustion of fossil fuels, climate change is mostly an energy problem.

Second, the rise of China and other populous, emerging economies has changed the geography of energy demand. How to meet their anticipated growth in global energy demand at acceptable cost and while also reducing carbon emissions is one of the biggest challenges of the twenty-first century.

Third, the energy system is being disrupted by technological innovation. The fracking revolution has dispelled fears of energy scarcity, while renewable energy technologies have also come of age and are increasingly cost competitive with conventional fuels.

Their rapidly falling costs, combined with technological innovation, have set in motion the wheels of a global energy transformation. In this critical juncture, our research group examines the actors, interests, and institutions of global energy politics, which is conceived broadly as the struggle of who gets what, when and how in energy production and consumption from an international perspective.

Concretely, the GIIS focuses on the following research topics:

  • Global energy governance
  • The geopolitics of the energy transformation
  • The emergence and diffusion of anti-fossil fuel norms
  • The threat to fossil fuel exporters from stranded assets and unburnable carbon
  • Contested energy megaprojects such as Nord Stream 2