The New Politics of Strategic Resources

The New Politics of Strategic Resources: Energy and Food Security Challenges in the 21st Century

David Steven
Emily O’Brien
Bruce Jones
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The New Politics of Strategic Resources
    Book Description:

    Since 2008, energy and food markets-those most fundamental to human existence-have remained in turmoil. Resource scarcity has had a much bigger global impact in recent years than has been predicted, with ongoing volatility a sign that the world is only part-way through navigating a treacherous transition in the way it uses resources. Scarcity, and perceptions of scarcity, increase political risks, while geopolitical turmoil exacerbates shortages and complicates the search for solutions.

    The New Politics of Strategic Resourcesexamines the political dimensions of strategic resource challenges at the domestic and international levels. For better or worse, energy and food markets are shaped by perceptions of national interest and do not behave as traditional market goods. So while markets are an essential part of any response to tighter resource supplies, governments also will play a key role. David Steven, Emily O'Brien, Bruce Jones, and their colleagues discuss what those roles are and what they should be.

    The architecture for coordinating multilateral responses to these dynamics has fallen short, raising questions about the effective international management of these issues. Politics impede here too, as the major powers must negotiate political and security trade-offs to cooperate on the design of more robust international regimes and mechanisms for resource security and the provision of global public goods.

    This timely volume includes chapters on major powers (United States, India, China) and key suppliers (Russia, Saudi Arabia). The contributors also address thematic topics, such as the interaction between oil and state fragility; the changing political dynamics of climate change; and the politics of resource subsidies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2534-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction: Energy Policy on the Edge
    (pp. 1-20)

    This book is about the political economy of energy. There are few more consequential topics for understanding today’s global economy, for global development, or the very well-being of humankind.

    Energy isn’t always thought of as being essential to the fabric of the global economy, or to development—but it should be. This can be dramatized by juxtaposing three simple facts.

    Energy goods account for almost one out of every five dollars traded in today’s global economy. That makes it one of the largest sectors in contemporary globalization. Only finance is in the same league in terms of shares of global...

  5. Part I. The Rising Actors

    • 2 China’s Search for Oil Security: A Critique
      (pp. 23-39)

      As China’s economy has soared in the twenty-first century, its thirst for oil has defied gravity as well. Between 2001 and 2012, China’s oil consumption more than doubled, and its share of world demand jumped from 6 to 12 percent.¹ Even in 2009, as world oil consumption sank amid the global financial crisis, China’s consumption grew more than 3 percent. This growing demand, along with rising production in the United States, means that China is poised to become the world’s top oil importer in 2014. More and more of China’s supply will come from abroad. In recent years, China has...

    • 3 Materials, Markets, Multilateralism: A Strategic Approach to India’s Resource Challenges
      (pp. 40-70)

      In recent years, higher and more volatile energy and food prices have pushed natural resources toward the top of the international agenda, while climate change remains the most complex and intractable global challenge, and water scarcity is a growing threat to industry, agriculture, and energy generation.

      In the coming decades, the world must confront three interlocking challenges with regard to the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainable development:

      —Securing the energy, water, and other minerals needed to support economic growth

      —Meeting basic needs for food, fuel, and water for a growing global population

      —Managing the environmental constraints and consequences...

    • 4 Brazil’s Principled Pragmatism: A Viable Response to the New Geopolitics of Resource Competition?
      (pp. 71-88)

      Brazil is approaching the challenges posed by the changing patterns in the supply of and demand for strategic resources based on three premises: (1) world population will grow in an increasingly complex and conflictive world; (2) geopolitical rearrangements in current international relations¹ make room for middle powers; and (3) Brazil has an opportunity to play a strategic role in responding to those challenges.

      Brazil is responding to these challenges by addressing domestic challenges, by seeking to strengthen ties within South America, and by attempting to improve multilateral institutions. By solving its own problems through means that are replicable in other...

    • 5 The Big Squeeze: Nigeria on the Brink
      (pp. 89-114)

      Nigeria has spent much of its five and a half decades as an independent nation wasting opportunities. The country has resources, land, and labor in abundance, but more than half of its people languish in poverty. Vast oil reserves have led not to increased prosperity but to environmental devastation, rampant corruption, and violent unrest in the oil-producing south. In the middle belt and the north, a swelling young workforce has turned not to productive activities but to bitter sectarian conflict. Despite rapid economic growth in the past decade, with cities such as Lagos demonstrating the potential to become engines of...

  6. Part II. Facets of Resource Security

    • 6 Routes to Energy Security: The Geopolitics of Gas Pipelines between the EU and Its Southeastern Neighbors
      (pp. 117-143)

      The world’s energy flows are in constant evolution. Recent years have brought a shift from debates on peak oil to a flood of unconventional gas flowing from previously import-dependent states. Energy demand, meanwhile, is also moving across the globe: by estimates from the International Energy Agency, emerging economies will account for 90 percent of net energy demand growth through 2035. In the realm of geopolitics, resource fluctuations bring about power changes. It is these dynamics that this chapter examines, with a special focus on natural gas and its flows between the European Union and its southeastern neighbors.

      The European Union...

    • 7 Energy Rivalry between India and China: Less than Meets the Eye?
      (pp. 144-167)

      Today, China and, to a lesser extent, India are the most dynamic and rapidly changing factors in the energy market. In the next two decades, their importance will grow even further. By 2035 China and India are expected to consolidate their respective positions as the world’s largest and third largest energy consumers.¹ China’s energy demand is likely to grow to become 77 percent larger than that of the United States, the second largest, while India’s energy demand is expected to be 69 percent of the energy demand in the United States.² The unprecedented energy demand from India and China is...

    • 8 Resource Security in Saudi Arabia: Domestic Challenges and Global Implications
      (pp. 168-186)

      Saudi Arabia is facing a major shift in its local and global energy landscape. Domestic fiscal and energy consumption pressures challenge the redistributive political economy that for decades has underpinned sociopolitical stability in the Saudi Kingdom. Saudi policy responses to the regional upheaval that has rocked the Middle East and North Africa since early 2011 have exacerbated the challenge of sustaining resource security. Moreover, emerging trends in oil and gas production and extraction threaten to reshape the international energy system and move its center of gravity away from the Gulf. The dilemma facing Saudi policymakers is one of balancing domestic...

    • 9 Governance for a Resilient Food System
      (pp. 187-209)

      At the beginning of the twenty-first century, humanity has achieved an astonishing feat. Even as the world’s population has grown exponentially—to the brink of the 7 billion mark—it has managed to ensure that food production has kept pace. Yet amid this extraordinary success, there remains an equally arresting failure: the fact that enough food is produced to feed all of the world’s inhabitants has not led to all people having enough to eat.

      On the contrary, the latest available data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggest that in the period of 2010–12, 852 million people...

    • 10 Water Security: Global Implications and Responses
      (pp. 210-225)

      “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” laments the ancient mariner in Samuel Coleridge’s poem, the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Water is indeed everywhere. It is essential for life, livelihoods, economies, and industries, but it is this ubiquity that makes its coherent management such a challenge. “Water” has different meanings in different contexts, resulting in approaches that are disconnected and at times contradictory.

      While the need for water is universal, essential in every region around the world, it is also deeply specific to national and local context. The nature of water supply, the climate, and the uses of...

    • 11 Oil, Domestic Politics, and International Conflict
      (pp. 226-244)

      The global oil industry profoundly shapes the politics and economic development of producer countries, and those that interact with them. Recent research and interest provides a superb opportunity to reflect upon the progress social scientists have made in understanding the politics of oil, and the many questions left unanswered.¹ In this chapter, I focus primarily on the security dimensions of energy and, more specifically, on oil. The sheer importance of oil to the modern global economy makes it the logical starting point of any inquiry into the role of energy in international security. It also has specific characteristics that are...

    • 12 Russia Gambles on Resource Scarcity: Energy Intrigues in a Time of Political Crisis
      (pp. 245-260)

      Russia is so richly endowed with many and varied natural resources—from land and water to oil and gold—and has inherited from the Soviet industrialization such a strong industrial and technological capacity to extract and process these resources that its potential as a global supplier of primary commodities might appear supreme. Yet many of the extraction industries suffer from underinvestment in their production assets, and Russia’s economic development resolutely slowed to a 2–3 percent crawl in 2012–13 after the five quarters long and 12 percent deep contraction in 2008–09. This diminishing output from Russia’s uniquely deep...

  7. Part III. The Critical Actor

    • 13 Challenges to Sustainable Growth after the Great Recession: How America Can Lead
      (pp. 263-317)

      In January 2000 President Bill Clinton argued that the United States had entered the new century from a position of unparalleled strength. “Never before has our nation enjoyed, at once, so much prosperity and social progress with so little internal crisis and so few external threats,” he said in his final State of the Union address. “We will make America the safest big country on Earth. We will pay off our national debt for the first time since 1835. We will bring prosperity to every American com munity. We will reverse the course of climate change and leave a safer,...

    • 14 Governance Challenges and the Role of the United States in the New Energy Landscape
      (pp. 318-334)

      Much of the discussion on global energy governance has focused on ways in which states competing for finite resources can work together to ensure the stability or sustainability of energy production, trade, or consumption for mutual benefit. In general, energy trade is governed reasonably successfully by the logic of the market, with price signals determining the levels of supply, demand, and investment. Even in a system of self-interested actors who operate in isolation and see energy as a zero-sum calculation (if I get the next barrel of oil, you don’t), the simple presence of the next barrel of oil—or...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 335-336)
  9. Index
    (pp. 337-365)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 366-366)