Geopolitics of Climate Change

Throughout recent history, governments have competed with each other to secure access to mineral resources, especially oil and gas. Energy trading relationships have considerably shaped international cooperation, as well as foreign and security policies. Since many of the world’s oil and gas reserves are located in fragile or politically unstable places, and are often at the center of countries' economies, the drive to substitute these for cleaner energy sources comes with geopolitical risks. Understanding these risks is an important step for a fair and peaceful transition away from fossil fuels.

The challenge

To achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, virtually all countries around the world have to remove carbon and other GHGs from their energy systems and broader economies. This will affect patterns in resource demand in the future, which presents a significant risk for certain countries and an opportunity for others. For example, oil-exporting economies will have to deal with stranded assets, while mineral-exporting countries might benefit from a green transition. Another area where conflict risks need to be mitigated is the mushrooming extraction of raw materials.

Both the increased extraction of fossil fuels, minerals and other resources as well as shifting global demand patterns have wide-ranging consequences, including pollution, social disputes, and even conflict. Nations, corporations, and financial markets need to plan now to mitigate the risks posed to all countries by the energy transition away from fossil fuels.

It is an international priority to enforce international and national regulations that protect the environment, and eventually transform the way we produce and consume goods and services. Countries with fewer resources to develop in a carbon-neutral way must receive special attention and support. Climate diplomacy offers a range of tools and entry points to achieve this.


Geopolitics of Decarbonisation_ Towards an Analytical Framework

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BRI Kazakhstan_Mistra

From Riches to Rags - Stranded Assets and the Governance Implications for the Fossil Fuel Sector