Introduction: Policy Agendas for the Future of Global Energy

Introduction: Policy Agendas for the Future of Global Energy

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’ that is 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 per cent 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.

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