Without doubt, energy security is one of the major international political issues of the twenty-first century. A glance at the annual forecasts of the International Energy Agency (IEA) from recent years (e.g. 2012: 52) reveals a projected rise in global energy demand, as much as 35% between 2010 and 2035, of which oil, coal, and gas are expected to account for roughly 60%. This is disquieting because these sources are exhaustible, geographically concentrated, and increasingly more volatile, raising the stakes of energy security as countries compete for access to resources on the one hand and search for alternatives on the other. The game is not new. Energy has been central to geopolitics at least since Sir Winston Churchill ordered the conversion of the British Navy from coal to oil. While substantial advances in recent years in renewable technologies and efficiency raised the hope that energy use could be both environmentally sustainable and politically less sensitive in the near future, other developments, including Russia’s intervention in the Crimea, the unravelling of the Middle East and North Africa, and the shale revolution in the US, demonstrate that the struggle for comprehensive energy security will continue to force countries and their leaders to see access to energy resources as vital to their national security.
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Samuel R. Schubert
- Macmillan Education UK
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