The climate crisis, renewable energy, and the changing landscape of global energy politics

Michael J. Albert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This essay reviews three recent books on the changing landscape of global energy politics in the era of climate change. Key questions that the authors investigate include: how will the renewable energy transition reshape the global balance of power? How will political-economic interdependencies and geopolitical alignments shift? Will contemporary petro-states adapt or collapse? And what new patterns of peace and conflict may emerge in a decarbonized world order? The authors provide different perspectives on the likely speed of the energy transition and its geopolitical implications. However, they occlude deeper questions about the depth of the transformations needed to prevent climate catastrophe—particularly in the nature of capitalism and military power—and the potential for more radical perspectives on energy futures. In contrast, I will argue that we should advance a critical research agenda on the global energy transition that accounts for the possibility of more far- reaching transformations in the political-economic, military, and ideological bases of world politics and highlights diverse movements fighting for their realization. These possible transformations include (1) transitions to post-growth political economies; (2) a radical shrinkage of emissions-intensive military–industrial complexes; and (3) decolonizing ideologies of “progress.” If struggles for alter- native energy futures beyond the hegemony of economic growth and Western-style modernization are at the forefront of radical politics today, then these struggles deserve greater attention from critical IR scholars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalAlternatives: Global, Local, Political
Issue number3
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • climate change
  • renewable energy
  • energy transition
  • geopolitics
  • climate justice


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