Global environmental politics and energy: Mapping the research agenda

Elsevier, Energy Research & Social Science, March 2014, Pages 188 - 197
Authors: 
Robert Falkner

Energy is central to the survival and prosperity of human society, which explains the social sciences’ interest in energy production, consumption and distribution. The emergence of the global environmental agenda in the second half of the 20th century gave rise to a distinctive research literature on how energy systems and global environmental protection are interconnected. The threat of disruptive climate change, in particular, has thrown the spotlight on the central role that energy plays in shaping the future relationship between human society and its natural environment. This article provides an overview of how the study of global environmental politics (GEP) has shaped energy research in the past and how it contributes to defining the future energy research agenda. It provides a brief review of the emergence of GEP within the discipline of International Relations. It identifies three core conceptual lenses that are central to the GEP research agenda: (i) the study of environmental impacts and ecological limits; (ii) the notions of sustainability and sustainable development; and (iii) the concept of global environmental governance. The article then maps the emerging energy research agenda from a GEP perspective, focused on climate change as the predominant concern and framing of contemporary GEP scholarship.