Energy Politics

Energy Politics

Brenda Shaffer
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Energy Politics
    Book Description:

    It is not uncommon to hear states and their leaders criticized for "mixing oil and politics." The U.S.-led Iraq War was criticized as a "war for oil." When energy exporters overtly use energy as a tool to promote their foreign policy goals, Europe and the United States regularly decry the use of energy as a "weapon" rather than accept it as a standard and legitimate tool of diplomacy. In Energy Politics, Brenda Shaffer argues that energy and politics are intrinsically linked. Modern life-from production of goods, to means of travel and entertainment, to methods of waging war-is heavily dependent on access to energy. A country's ability to acquire and use energy supplies crucially determines the state of its economy, its national security, and the quality and sustainability of its environment. Energy supply can serve as a basis for regional cooperation, but at the same time can serve as a source of conflict among energy seekers and between producers and consumers. Shaffer provides a broad introduction to the ways in which energy affects domestic and regional political developments and foreign policy. While previous scholarship has focused primarily on the politics surrounding oil, Shaffer broadens her scope to include the increasingly important role of natural gas and alternative energy sources as well as emerging concerns such as climate change, the global energy divide, and the coordinated international policy-making required to combat them. Energy Politics concludes with examinations of how politics and energy interact in six of the world's largest producers and consumers of energy: Russia, Europe, the United States, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0452-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    It is not uncommon to hear leaders and states criticized for “mixing oil and politics.” Indeed, a standard criticism of the U.S.-led war in Iraq is “it is just about oil.” In assessing the merit of various pipeline and energy production projects, companies and governments are warned to stick to “commercial considerations.” A 2003 joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/World Bank report on cross-border oil and gas pipelines proposed as one of its main recommendations that projects should be “driven by commercial considerations.”¹ The United States and Europe have warned Russia and other energy exporting states to separate energy from...

  4. Chapter 1 Energy and Regime Type
    (pp. 19-27)

    Major energy exporters possess distinctive patterns of economic and political development. Revenues from oil and gas exports affect the economies of exporting states in a different way than revenue derived from exports of manufactured and other produced goods and services. Almost counterintuitively, oil exporters tend to fare more poorly economically than energy-poor states. Furthermore, because of the volatile nature of oil prices, the economies of major oil producers are generally unstable. Moreover, nondemocratic states that derive the majority of their income from energy exports are considerably less likely to make a transition to democracy. A major foreign policy implication of...

  5. Chapter 2 Foreign Policy
    (pp. 28-46)

    Energy is both a factor that influences a state’s foreign policy outcomes and a potential tool of foreign policy. Enhancing energy supply security is part of the national security agenda of energy-importing states, while the goal of assuring stable markets is on the policy agenda of exporting states. Stable access to oil, including during war time, is a component of military planning and national security policies, and lack of access creates a diminished military capacity. During periods of tight international energy market conditions, energy tends to become a more prominent factor and tool in states’ foreign policies and a higher...

  6. Chapter 3 Pipeline Trends and International Politics
    (pp. 47-65)

    Different means of energy transport create varying relations between suppliers and consumers and have differing political ramifications. In the twenty-first century, new trends have emerged in energy transport that have immense political implications: pipelines are reemerging as a major means of energy supply. In its early production period during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, oil was transported primarily by pipeline, train, and barge. After World War II, tankers at sea for the most part replaced pipelines for oil transport. Consequently, pipelines are used today to transport only a small portion of oil trade: two-thirds of the world’s oil...

  7. Chapter 4 Conflict
    (pp. 66-90)

    The drive to control oil and natural resources is frequently said to be a cause of wars between states and within states. Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that the global battle for control of energy has become a major source of conflict: “competition for access to energy can become the life and death for many societies.”¹ As we saw earlier, U.S. senator Richard Lugar, an elder statesman on foreign policy issues, views conflict over energy as a major source of future confrontations. He has called for NATO to alter Article Five of its charter so that energy...

  8. Chapter 5 Security
    (pp. 91-104)

    Energy is a strategically vital commodity, and access to energy is a necessary element of a state’s security. For many countries, energy security is an integrated element of foreign and national security policies. Energy’s importance becomes particularly clear when world energy markets are tight since concerns about energy security tend to rise. NATO, for example, integrated energy security into its mission in 2006 in the wake of a period of extended high oil prices.¹

    Yet popular discussions of energy security are often fuzzy about what the term means. Many people are confused by the concepts of energy security and energy...

  9. Chapter 6 Climate Change
    (pp. 105-113)

    Energy and environmental policies are interconnected: how a state uses energy is one of the most significant factors affecting its environment. At the same time, environmental policies affect energy consumption patterns and prices. The interconnection between energy and environment is most acute in the sphere of climate change: addressing the issue of climate change implies dramatic shifts in energy consumption patterns on a global scale. In addition, climate change policies affect the preferences for which fuels are consumed and thus affect the prices for different energy sources.

    A number of the consequences of massive use of fossil fuels—air pollution,...

  10. Chapter 7 Russia
    (pp. 114-127)

    Russia is the world’s largest energy exporter and the second-largest energy producer. Already the largest exporter of natural gas, Russia also holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, second-largest coal reserves, and eighth-largest proven oil reserves, with the potential for considerable further growth in the oil and gas sectors since wide swaths of Russian territory remain uncharted. Russia is also a major producer of nuclear energy and aims to increase its exports of reactors and technology, as well as expand fuel and waste processing and storage.¹ Revenues from energy export are Russia’s largest source of foreign earnings and have played...

  11. Chapter 8 Europe
    (pp. 128-134)

    The formal integration process that led to the formation of the European Union began with energy cooperation. The first treaty-based organization among the European states was the European Coal and Steel Market (Treaty of Paris, 1951); the second was the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM, 1957). The EURATOM Treaty was signed the same day as the Treaty of Rome that established the European Economic Community. Despite the fact that energy was one of the first spheres of common action in postwar Western Europe and a driver for Europe’s integration, the EU has not yet adopted a common energy policy and...

  12. Chapter 9 The United States
    (pp. 135-142)

    Because it is the world’s largest energy consumer and economy, the United States has more impact on global energy trends than any other country. Indeed, not only is the United States the world’s largest energy consumer, it is also the largest energy producer and net importer. The United States possesses the world’s largest coal reserves, sixth-largest natural gas reserves, and eleventh-largest oil reserves. It is also the second-largest producer of climate-altering gases, and the largest on a per capita basis.¹

    Energy policy is integrated thoroughly into U.S. foreign and national security policies, and Washington frequently uses energy sanctions and policies...

  13. Chapter 10 China
    (pp. 143-148)

    China’s energy consumption patterns and policies have attracted widespread international interest. This is not surprising: China’s consumption accounts for close to half the growth in world oil consumption in the last decade. This growth has transformed China into a major energy importer and helped fuel the run-up in international oil prices in the early twenty-first century. But it also reflects three other factors: the vast scale of China’s energy production and consumption; uncertainty over future trends in China’s energy policies; and the broader security, economic, and political implications of China’s choices and behavior for the international system.

    China is the...

  14. Chapter 11 Iran
    (pp. 149-154)

    Iran’s energy profile is unique: the country possesses the second-largest proven reserves of natural gas and is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil. At the same time, Iran has no major natural gas export projects, and imports more natural gas than it exports. In addition, over 40 percent of oil production is consumed in the domestic market, and Iran imports close to half its gasoline consumption. Moreover, Tehran is a net importer of electricity. Iran has a modest refining capacity, and thus spends a large portion of its state budget on imported petroleum products. According to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gasoline...

  15. Chapter 12 Saudi Arabia
    (pp. 155-159)

    For nearly half a century, Saudi Arabia has been the world’s most important oil producer, and through its dominance of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries it has played the leading role in determining global levels of oil exports and, consequently, world oil prices. This leadership role is likely to continue for future decades since the country possesses the world’s largest proven oil reserves—a fifth of the global total. Saudi Arabia also enjoys extremely low production costs. Saudi Arabia’s key power instrument has been its spare oil production capacity. Riyadh’s importance in the oil market has won the Saudi...

  16. Chapter 13 Conclusion
    (pp. 160-166)

    This examination of the interaction between energy and international politics has clearly demonstrated that the two are integrally interlinked. Commercial and political considerations influence each other and can rarely be neatly separated. An integrated world oil market has increased the degree of interdependence in the world economic and political system. Each state’s oil consumption affects the price for all consumers, and small changes in production ability or stability in oil exporting or key transit states affect the global oil market for all. Moreover, all countries face the common threat of global climate change. No country can individually protect itself from...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 167-180)
  18. Index
    (pp. 181-188)
  19. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 189-189)