Mapping Global Energy Governance

Date01 September 2011
Published date01 September 2011
Mapping Global Energy Governance
Navroz K. Dubash
Centre for Policy Research
Ann Florini
Brookings Institution and National University of Singapore
The challenges inherent in energy policy form an increasingly large proportion of the great issues of global
governance. These energy challenges ref‌lect numerous transnational market or governance failures, and their solutions
are likely to require a number of global components that can support or constrain national energy policy. Governing
energy globally requires approaches that can simultaneously cope with three realities: the highly fragmented and
conf‌lictual nature of the current inter-state system’s efforts to govern energy; the diversity of institutions and actors
relevant to energy; and the dominance of national processes of energy decision making that are not effectively
integrated into global institutions.
Policy Implications
The lack of clarity on and priorities for the objectives of global energy governance impedes coordination and
The energy landscape is littered with governors and institutions. But because they have emerged in a path-
dependent fashion, often in response to serial crisis, the result is an uncoordinated and inchoate landscape. There is
now a compelling need to harness this diversity productively.
An emergent array of partnerships and networks are coming together, particularly with regard to clean energy
f‌inance, which provide possible sources of governance innovation but also have the potential for low levels of
legitimacy and transparency.
National decision making continues to drive energy policy, in ways that are poorly coordinated both internally and
with regard to global processes of governance. National energy policy processes need enormous improvement and
need to be consciously coordinated with global processes. The Asian giants will be crucial actors in this regard.
Why energy is a global governance challenge
Although energy-related policy issues frequently domi-
nate headlines, energy remains a surprising outlier in
global governance debates. In the vast literatures on the
shifting tides of globalization, the complexities of man-
aging an increasingly multipolar world with a pro-
nounced shift of power to Asia, and the rise of a
dizzying array of nonstate actors, energy policy issues at
best f‌igure in occasional cameo appearances. We argue
that energy policy deserves a leading role.
The challenges inherent in energy policy form an
increasingly large proportion of the great issues of glo-
bal governance. These energy challenges have direct or
indirect global components that support or constrain
national policy options and private sector behaviors. We
frame the range of energy-related global governance
issues and brief‌ly assess the current conf‌iguration of
global energy governors and institutions. We aim to con-
tribute to an emergent global conversation on how the
rapid changes in world order shape, and are shaped by,
energy-related developments. In this article, we use
public goods theory to help identify key energy-related
market and governance failures, highlight key obstacles
to coherent global energy governance and suggest
directions for a broader research agenda.
Framing global energy governance
Only in the past few years have international relations
and global governance scholars and policy analysts
begun to develop a signif‌icant literature on broad frame-
works for understanding energy governance beyond the
national level (Cherp et al., 2011; Colgan, 2010; Florini,
2008; Florini and Sovacool, 2009, 2011; Goldthau and
Witte, 2009, 2010; Keohane and Victor, 2011; Lesage
Global Policy Volume 2 . Special Issue . September 2011
ª2011 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2011) 2:SI doi: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2011.00119.x
Research Article

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