Global Energy Politics

Global Energy Politics

Thijs Van de Graaf and Benjamin K. Sovacool

Publisher: Polity
Published: April 2020.

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Ever since the Industrial Revolution energy has been a key driver of world politics. From the oil crises of the 1970s to today’s rapid expansion of renewable energy sources, every shift in global energy patterns has important repercussions for international relations.

In this new book, Thijs Van de Graaf and Benjamin Sovacool uncover the intricate ways in which our energy systems have shaped global outcomes in four key areas of world politics: security, the economy, the environment and global justice. Moving beyond the narrow geopolitical focus that has dominated much of the discussion on global energy politics, they also deftly trace the connections between energy, environmental politics, and community activism.

The authors argue that we are on the cusp of a global energy shift that promises to be no less transformative for the pursuit of wealth and power in world politics than the historical shifts from wood to coal and from coal to oil. This ongoing energy transformation will not only upend the global balance of power; it could also fundamentally transfer political authority away from the nation state, empowering citizens, regions and local communities.

Global Energy Politics will be an essential resource for students of the social sciences grappling with the major energy issues of our times.


Foreword by Adnan Z. Amin

1. Introduction: Systems, Frames, and Transitions
2. The History and Functioning of Energy Markets

Part I: World Politics Through an Energy Prism

3. Energy and Security: Fueling Geopolitics and War?
4. Energy and the Economy: Powering Growth and Prosperity?
5. Energy and the Environment: Wrecking the Planet?
6. Energy and Justice: Equitable and Fair?

Part II: Governing the Energy Transition

7. Energy Technologies and Innovation
8. National and Regional Energy Policy
9. Global Energy Governance
10. Conclusions: Contested Energy Futures

Reviews & Praise

‘In a complex and rapidly changing energy landscape, this comprehensive overview of the global politics of energy is particularly welcome. It skillfully connects the dots between energy markets, geopolitics, the environment, and local activism across a range of energy technologies and sectors. For anyone who wants to understand the complexities and depth of the global energy challenge, Global Energy Politics is essential reading.’
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General Emeritus of the International Renewable Energy Agency

‘An important contribution to thinking through the current energy era and the future transition.’
Morgan Bazilian, Executive Director of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources and Research Professor of Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines

‘a well-informed, empirically rich systematic analysis of different parts of the energy sector that builds directly on the latest research.’
Gavin Bridge, Durham University

‘Global Energy Politics is a comprehensive, well-researched, and valuable guide to the energy challenges of our time. Thijs Van de Graaf and Benjamin Sovacool deploy a variety of analytical perspectives: geopolitics, economics, sustainability, and justice, discussing promising technological innovations and the institutional and political challenges to decarbonization.’
Robert O. Keohane, Princeton University

‘We are in the middle of a global energy transformation. Van De Graaf and Sovacool’s comprehensive text provides students with an essential guide to this changing global energy landscape.’
Johannes Urpelainen, John Hopkins University

‘Keeping pace with the changing global energy landscape and its influence on political, economic and social issues has become exponentially more difficult in a world where unprecedented risks and technological advances are upending the norms of the last century. Global Energy Politics is a valuable resource for those seeking to understand and navigate the shifting relationships between energy markets, geopolitics, climate, equity, and emerging technologies at this critical energy crossroad.’
Jason Bordoff, Columbia University