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Rethinking Energy Geopolitics: Towards a Geopolitical Economy of Global Energy Transformation

Kuzemko, Caroline; Blondeel, Mathieu; Bradshaw, Michael; Bridge, Gavin; Faigen, Erika; Fletcher, Louis

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Caroline Kuzemko

Mathieu Blondeel

Michael Bradshaw

Erika Faigen

Louis Fletcher


We are in the midst of a global energy system transformation (GEST) which is rewiring the world economy, opening new axes of political contestation, and revolutionising the energetic basis of human civilisation. Energy geopolitics has not yet reconciled itself to this challenge. The field has traditionally been preoccupied with the dependence of Western states on cross-border flows of fossil fuels. More recently, efforts have been made to prospectively map out what the geopolitics of a fully renewable world might look like. What both literatures miss, however, is the very fact of the GEST: that we are living through a changing and contested process of global transformation, across interacting high- and low-emissions systems, whose contours are open and actively constructed over time. In this paper, we start to develop a provisional framework to make sense of the GEST, that is able to capture the full scale of the transformation, and its dynamic, contingent, constructed nature. We attend to three areas of geopolitical economy: the wide-ranging material dimensions of the transformation, its geographical space-making, and its conflict-ridden political economy. We then apply this framework to two case studies, one looking at the fraught role of fossil gas as a ‘transition fuel’, the other at lithium-ion batteries.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 12, 2024
Online Publication Date May 12, 2024
Publication Date May 12, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 2, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2024
Journal Geopolitics
Print ISSN 1465-0045
Electronic ISSN 1557-3028
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-35
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Published Journal Article (Advance Online Version) (2.4 Mb)


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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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