With the world's energy system undergoing a major transformation impacting economies, politics and society as a whole, traditional concerns about fossil fuel dependence aren't enough. This journal article proposes a new framework to understand this ongoing shift, considering the complex interplay of high- and low-emission energy sources.

We are in the midst of a global energy system transformation (GEST) which is rewiring the world economy, opening new axes of political contestation, and revolutionising the energetic basis of human civilisation. Energy geopolitics has not yet reconciled itself to this challenge.

The field has traditionally been preoccupied with the dependence of Western states on cross-border flows of fossil fuels. More recently, efforts have been made to prospectively map out what the geopolitics of a fully renewable world might look like. What both literatures miss, however, is the very fact of the GEST: that we are living through a changing and contested process of global transformation, across interacting high- and low-emissions systems, whose contours are open and actively constructed over time.

In this paper, we start to develop a provisional framework to make sense of the GEST, that is able to capture the full scale of the transformation, and its dynamic, contingent, constructed nature. We attend to three areas of geopolitical economy: the wide-ranging material dimensions of the transformation, its geographical space-making, and its conflict-ridden political economy. We then apply this framework to two case studies, one looking at the fraught role of fossil gas as a ‘transition fuel’, the other at lithium-ion batteries.


Caroline Kuzemko, Mathieu Blondeel, Michael Bradshaw, Gavin Bridge, Erika Faigen and Louis Fletcher

Publication Details

Kuzemko C, Blondeel M, Bradshaw M, Bridge G, Faigen E and Fletcher L. Rethinking Energy Geopolitics: Towards a Geopolitical Economy of Global Energy Transformation. Taylor and Francis Group. doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2024.2351075