Thursday, 14 November 2019

The world of energy

By Ashok Kumar
Updated: October 30, 2019 12:01 pm

For countries to deal successfully with energy issues, they must engage in international cooperation. This requires being strategic in selecting issues to address. Although domestic politics undoubtedly takes center stage in formulating energy policy, energy markets and environmental problems have both become global. As a result, any nation’s actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions meaningfully, to secure reliable energy supplies, or to stabilize energy prices will be affected by the actions of many other countries. International considerations raise hurdles in the formulation of effective national policies, but they can also create opportunities. International cooperation is essential for an effective global response to energy and climate change issues, but true international coordination is inherently difficult to organise. Because there is no world government, effective collaboration must involve states, multilateral institutions, and those ½rms and non-state actors that play important roles in an issue-area. Such cooperation does occur, most notably in trade through the World Trade Organization (wto), in development through the World Bank, and on monetary issues–at least when crisis concentrates the minds of elites and publics–through the International Monetary Fund and Group of 20 (G-20). But with respect to energy and climate change, cooperation has been halting at best.

The use of all these forms of energy now gives rise to controversy. Fossil fuels of course contribute to C02 emissions and climate change. The development of shale gas, currently the source of half natural gas production in the United States, meets strong opposition in a number of European countries. The accident at Fukushima has put into question the future development of nuclear power, in Japan, in Europe but also in the USA. There is considerable criticism of the use of coal, which is the source for most of the energy needs in China and a number of developing countries, because of its emissions of C02 and other pollutants. Even traditional biomass, whose use leads to deforestation and to respiratory diseases, and the development of hydraulic power, are the subject of debate.ls solar and wind the solution?

How should one judge between the different energies? How can decisions be taken between reducing consumption and increasing production? What is the future for new renewable energies?

These are the issues at stake on the energy sector.

The book The Geopolitics of Energy appears just at the right time to provide clear and well documented replies to the questions that all of us, as energy users, are posing. How are the different forms of energy produced? What does the future hold for them? Who are the players active in the energy scene? What are the supply constraints? What is the impact of the strong growth in India and China on energy resources?

The book is in two parts. The first sets out the major characteristics of the energy sector. The second provides an analysis of the global energy issues region by region and details the geopolitical aspects. In a nutshell, this book will be an interesting read for all those who are seeking a global perspective of a sector which is fundamental both to our economy and international policies.

By Ashok Kumar

 

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