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Global energy scenarios: A geopolitical reality check

Blondeel, Mathieu; Price, James; Bradshaw, Michael; Pye, Steve; Dodds, Paul; Kuzemko, Caroline; Bridge, Gavin

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Mathieu Blondeel

James Price

Michael Bradshaw

Steve Pye

Paul Dodds

Caroline Kuzemko


The ongoing Global Energy System Transformation (GEST) has attracted the attention of multiple academic disciplines and practitioners, approaching the process with different analytical and conceptual tools. We explore the ‘integration gap’ that exists between, on the one hand, Energy System Modelling and the stylised scenarios they use, and on the other, energy geopolitics. We consider how these approaches can complement each other to further our understanding of the global energy system’s future. Using a novel qualitative analytical framework, we review the extent to which a range of state-of-the-art global energy scenarios capture and reflect key issues in energy geopolitics in their narratives and model implementation. We find that few scenarios consider geopolitics in any depth. Those that do often treat it as a barrier to decarbonisation efforts that are aligned with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. Normative, Paris-aligned scenarios describe smooth processes of change where cooperation and coordination between countries are assumed and where geopolitics is often completely absent. Our findings emphasise the need for a more intricate understanding of the difference between ‘paper transitions’ and the real-world messiness and complexities of GEST, where geopolitics has a dual quality of simultaneously accelerating and hindering the transformation process.


Blondeel, M., Price, J., Bradshaw, M., Pye, S., Dodds, P., Kuzemko, C., & Bridge, G. (2024). Global energy scenarios: A geopolitical reality check. Global Environmental Change, 84, Article 102781.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 25, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 7, 2023
Publication Date 2024-01
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jan 15, 2024
Journal Global Environmental Change
Print ISSN 0959-3780
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 84
Article Number 102781
Keywords Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law; Ecology; Geography, Planning and Development; Global and Planetary Change
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