Contemporary Challenges for Classical Geopolitics

Thesis: Renewable energy resources have critically diminished geopolitical factors and geostrategy.

Introduction Renewable energy is part of the vast Global energy system; the consumption of renewable energy is going to increase greatly in the coming decades. However, geopolitics of renewable energy is expected to be less powerful than in the fossil-fuel era; that is because alternative technologies like wind and solar electricity, will decrease the geopolitical power of oil and gas producers, because low-carbon alternative will provide virousness and increased energy security, especially to those countries that are heavily depended on fossil-fuel imports. But the question is; Does the geopolitical role of renewable energy will be less influential and plays a minor role compared to the geopolitics at the fossil-fuel era? Well, many predictions were being assumed and studied by many companies, leads to different scenarios for the near future, these scenarios of the high levels of renewable energy discuss the geopolitical consequences based on many factors such as access to technology, electric power lines, rare earth materials, climate change, patents, storage, and the unpredictable government policies.

Theoretical & Empirical material

This paper will discuss some of these factors that lead to different geopolitical consequences. The rise of renewable energy may affect some countries, particularly those which relied heavily on oil and gas export, on one hand, these countries might face political riskiness and lose their access to the high rent unless they make some adjustments on their policies toward the dependency of oil and Gas. On the other hand, countries formerly dependent on imported fossil fuels could see this as a reduction of this burden and a consequent expansion of domestic and international political power. Rare earth elements are used for renewable and clean energy technologies, although rare elements are found in some countries, they are usually found in weaken concentrations and are usually difficult to extract. however, these countries might have difficulties in the production and sale of these elements, on the other hand, as demand for renewable energy technologies and the demand of these elements continues to increase, countries may be inclined to keep rare earth elements in reserve for themselves and compete over these resources. For example, “the U.S defense industry makes up a small portion of the total demand for rare earth elements, and the major supply comes from China, but to insure alternative supply, the U.S. will likely need to proactively intervene in the market to shift production dependence away from China”.

Electric Grids, grater electric interconnection could increase interdependence among a nation which should logically be reduced geopolitical competition over fossil fuel resources. On the other hand, cross-border trade electricity could create geopolitical tensions in which countries may be able to use energy as a weapon, for example by shutting off its supply to other countries. Investments and technologies may become a way of cooperation between countries or a node of geopolitical competition. First, the transformation over technology between developed and developing countries might increase the tensions among them: As Criekemans says, “from an external-geopolitical perspective those countries that today invest in renewable energy sources and technology may become the dominant geopolitical players tomorrow”. Second, it should take in consideration that private companies who own the technologies might try to motivate countries to cooperate In reality, the distinction between economic, environmental and geopolitical dimensions is of course much more blurred. Yet, it is important to keep these countervailing interests in mind when trying to understand why there is tension between developing and developed countries when it comes to the sharing of renewable energy technology or why some countries took a particular position. For example, where economic reasons coupled with geopolitical considerations have trumped environmental objectives is the EU\'s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of solar cells and solar panels from China. Climate change is one of the factors that should take it in consideration, recently it has been concerned that climate change will lead to the scarcity of resources such as food insecurity, clean water, and natural disaster this drives to increase the cross-border migration, in which all these factors might lead to political instability and even state failure. However, renewable energy somehow helps to prevent climate change and the consequences of it.

Conclusion

Indeed, the balance of power in energy geopolitics is transferring from fossil-fuel countries to countries that are developing renewable energy solutions. But to predict geopolitical consequences is very difficult because there are many elements to consider, IRENA- International Renewable Energy Agency convened, “the renewable revolution brings energy independence to countries around the world”. The transformation over the global energy shows both opportunities and challenges at the same time, the general director of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin, says: “The benefits will outweigh the challenges, but only if the right policies and strategies are in place:” It is necessary for leaders and policymakers to predict these changes, and be able to manage and direct the new geopolitical environment. As a result, the rising of renewable energy may also create new centers of geopolitical power across the world. However, the geopolitics of the fossil-fuel energy and renewable energy will exist next to each other for a period of the next several decades. Decision-makers will have to be creative in trying to cancel out the drawbacks of one source of energy with the advantages of the other. In that direction, the geopolitics of energy will become more complicated and will have to deal with many issues in foreign policy, diplomacy, and international security. The geopolitical consequences of renewable energy depend largely on which scenario will be applied in the future.

References

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  • "The Geopolitics of Rare Earth Elements.\" Stratfor Worldview. April 8. Accessed December 8, 2019.
  • https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/geopolitics-rare-earth-elements.