A large-scale deployment of clean energy technology is gaining speed on the global stage, causing shifts of significant geopolitical consequence. As clean energy moves from margin to mainstream, it is set to alter the balance of energy security and energy power among key regions of the world. Nations will redraw the energy map, both by assessing access to renewable resources and evaluating their traditional alliances. The degree to which frameworks are established so that clean energy drives not just competition, but also cooperation, will be key to determining the impact it ultimately has on international relations. Energy transitions take time. [...]
Biofuels were hailed in the first half of the last decade as a green solution to reliance on imported petroleum, and a savior to farmers seeking higher prices for commodities in surplus. But in the second half of the decade, biofuels emerged as real and imminent threats to both environmental quality and food security, while being a costly and ill-conceived response to energy concerns. Agriculture and energy ministers met at a high-level conference at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in June 2008, and essentially glossed over these issues in endorsing continued government subsidies to the biofuels question. [...]
In the aftermath of Copenhagen, many observers are lamenting the apparent unwillingness of governments to confront climate change. However, this unwillingness simply reflects an essential truth about public policy: The immediate always trumps the distant. For most policymakers, the threat of climate change remains a distant one. Governments prioritize immediate threats, even if doing so hastens the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea levels that may eventually destroy habitats and nations. Another vivid illustration of this mindset is the acquisition by foreign governments of vast tracts of farmland across the developing world. These land deals leave immense carbon [...]
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