Policy Agendas for the Future of Global Energy

30 Apr 2012, 
published in
Global Policy, 3 (2)

This is an introduction to a special section in Global Policy (volume two, issue three) that explores policy agendas for the future of global energy. Read From the State to the Market and Back, an article by Andreas Goldthau that is part of the section.

Since energy has made it to the top of policy agendas, it has become subject to fierce debates between marketers” and securitizers.” Market proponents tend to argue that energy is just another commodity traded on markets, with prices determined by supply and demand. Policy agendas should, therefore, focus on making markets work and at fixing market failures. Security proponents, by contrast, tend to view energy as a hard security issue, and hence subject to geopolitical scheming. Energy policies should, in their view, be synchronized with foreign policy agendas. These debates on global energy miss out on three fronts. First, energy resources are more than ordinary commodities or part of capabilities in the neorealist sense. They are of crucial importance to the welfare and economic development of countries and societies. In this, policy agendas based either on a purist security perspective or a neoliberal one obviously miss the target. Second, energy is now recognized as being at the core of the climate change problem. The world’s transition towards a low carbon future therefore adds an additional layer of complexity to national and global energy policy making, putting in question the effectiveness of classic policy toolboxes. Third, the rise of developing Asia brings to the fore yet another policy challenge: access to affordable and reliable energy services. Challenges particularly arise from the energy demand side, as lifting some 20 percent of the world’s population out of energy poverty requires national and global energy systems to effectively respond to demand increments. Challenges also arise with regards to climate policy, as the consumption increment is not necessarily green. Universal energy access therefore requires holistic thinking across traditional policy fields.

To read the full article, please visit Global Policy journal online ↪ .