Global Outlook 2018: The energy revolution and its growing uncertainties
How fast the world moves toward cleaner energy hinges on several difficult-to-predict factors, including climate change policies, the glut in oil and gas markets and disruptive technologies. What seems sure is that renewable energy sources won’t overtake fossil fuels in the medium term and that natural gas will loom larger in geopolitical conflicts.
What’s next for the Caspian region
Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Caspian Sea region plays an outsized role in geopolitical events. In recent years, global powers have made some significant changes in their policies toward the region. China is stepping up its activity, while the U.S. has backed away. Russia’s influence has greatly increased, while Turkey’s has waned. Now, states in the region face a growing threat from Muslim extremism. How well countries meet these challenges will depend on the strength of their state institutions. In Central Asia, that could mean increased cooperation and peace. In the South Caucasus, conflict could be on the cards.
The limited global impact of Trump’s ‘America First’ energy policies
Coal is back in the U.S., with production and exports rising. This has coincided with a President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies in the energy sector. But coal’s comeback is more a function of market forces than politics. And it could be short-lived. Despite all the sound and fury, Mr. Trump's initiatives to support fossil fuels will have far less of an impact on energy markets and global efforts to reduce climate change than his critics claim. Europe, however, could still benefit.
GIS Dossier: Nuclear energy
The 2011 Fukushima disaster brought nuclear energy development programs around the world to a screeching halt – temporarily. Though Germany plans to fully phase out nuclear power production, Japan has brought several reactors back online, and other countries have restarted construction on nuclear plants. These developments have had huge geopolitical effects: Germany’s fossil fuel imports from Russia have grown, while China has found an opening to increase its sway on four continents by financing nuclear projects.
Russia’s growing economic ties with the Middle East
While Russia’s military activity in the Middle East has caught headlines, its economic footprint in the region is increasing as well. Much of the cooperation is occurring in the energy sector, but Moscow is not interested in the region’s natural resources. Instead, it is working on establishing a long-term foothold.
Mexico’s energy reforms and production outlook
Faced with output declines and the shale revolution, Mexico had little choice but to reopen its oil and gas industry to foreign investors. The early results have been promising, but President Enrique Pena Nieto’s energy reforms are not out of the woods yet.
China at the center of global energy change
A sluggish world economy and sustained improvement in energy efficiency caused growth in global energy consumption to slow to 1 percent in 2015, well below the 10-year average of 1.9 percent. Taking a closer look, one country stands out: China. Its changing economy shaped the dynamics of global energy last year and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.