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.
GIS Dossier: Failed global climate policies
Since the 1990s, the international community has been trying to keep climate change under control – with less than stellar results. Despite initiatives like the 1997 Kyoto Protocol or the 2015 Paris Agreement, global temperatures are still well on track to increase by 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels – the threshold scientists say could lead to dangerous climate effects. Geopolitics and market forces are mostly behind this failure – as GIS experts have been pointing out for some time. In this Dossier, we bring together the analyses that paint the picture of how we got here.
China won’t save global climate protection policies
China has made big strides in greening its energy sector. But while some hope this means the country can become a new leader in the fight against global climate change, Beijing’s goals are different. The moves it is making now are aimed at putting China in an advantageous geopolitical position, especially in terms of trade. Moreover, its momentum on the green energy front may not be sustainable.
China’s influence in Southeast Asia flows through the Mekong
China is using the Mekong as a geopolitical tool. The river provides much needed irrigation water and hydropower potential to countries downstream, but Beijing can choke the flow with a network of 20 planned dams. If the downstream countries joined together, they would have a chance of preventing China from using strong-arm tactics. As it stands however, each country is dealing individually with the Chinese, ensuring Beijing has the upper hand.
Risks for China’s energy strategy
China faces three big challenges in its energy strategy: reducing pollution, mitigating the negative effects of climate change and securing overland supply. The country has made huge investments to achieve its goals, but macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainties could yet derail Beijing’s plans. In the end, China is likely to be successful, but will have to deftly manage its energy policies and alliances.