International Handbook of Energy Security
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International Handbook of Energy Security

Edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta

This Handbook brings together energy security experts to explore the implications of framing the energy debate in security terms, both in respect of the governance of energy systems and the practices associated with energy security.
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Chapter 24: The political economy of energy security

Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta


The International Energy Agency’s (2012) World Energy Outlook devotes an entire section to a focus on energy efficiency ‘blueprints’, though it struggles to extend this concern to reducing overall demand (and attendant dismal scenarios for energy policy and climate change), as opposed to meeting that growing demand (and more equitable supply) with greater economic efficiency. The conventional assumption seems to be that energy supply should be stabilized, and that shortages endanger everything from individual livelihoods to the global political economy. While these assumptions are reasonable in the context of ongoing business, the overall objective of maintaining current practices through short-term management of supply and price is probably quite unreasonable given the extensive nature of the challenges indicated by the studies in this volume. The arguments and insights provided by the various chapters have underwritten the need to broaden, deepen and transform the understanding of energy security. This also suggests a tension between a long term perspective on energy security and a short term one. While the former involves political debates, and transformation of the governance of energy, the latter makes evident the implications of the neo-liberal economic approach. The energy security debate is characterized by different voices, which are influenced by the different disciplinary perspectives of the actors involved in the debate.

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