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Helen E.S. Nesadurai

This chapter examines transnational private governance in the palm oil sector, a multi-billion dollar global industry controversial for its role in deforestation, global warming, as well as conflicts over land and labour. However, failure of its principle producer governments in Malaysia and Indonesia to address these adverse impacts led NGOs and consumer goods manufacturers to establish private standards to govern the behaviour of palm oil firms. The analysis shows how private environmental and social standards relied on the market to drive change in the behaviour of the very same palm oil plantation corporations responsible in the past for unsustainable production practices, protected as they were by their cosy patron–client relations with state actors. The chapter thus speaks to broader debates in global governance concerning the conditions under which new forms of environmental and social regulation become embedded in local contexts characterised by deeply entrenched local power relations favouring more profitable extractive forms of economic activity.

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Jeffrey D. Wilson

The chapter starts off with the observation that energy is one of the least institutionalised, rules-based and cooperative domains of the contemporary IPE. The reasons, as the chapter outlines, lie in resource nationalism, a phenomenon where energy producing governments favour state- rather than market-based approaches to energy policy. Resource nationalism is the result of political imperatives to assert state control over energy sectors through ownership, trade and subsidy policies. It has seen multilateral organisations struggle to update their memberships, led to the proliferation of energy ‘talkshops’ at the expense of treaty-based bodies, and in some cases seen governments veto joint initiatives to address energy insecurity. The consequence is an energy system that is far less institutionalised than other domains of the global economy, and lacks representative and effective governance institutions capable of meeting emerging energy challenges. While resource nationalism persists in a range of important energy players – particularly Russia, China, Indonesia and the Gulf States – it is likely that energy will remain a fragmented and under-developed domain of the global economy in years to come.

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Alvin A. Camba

Since the 1980s, resource-rich states reconfigured their development strategies in response to global economic pressures. As mining companies rushed to capitalise on reforms, social movements and local communities mobilised across the world to resist resource extraction. The social movement literature has documented the response of various civil society and people’s organisations to mining companies, while the literature on artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) or informal mining has argued for a developmental model outside corporate-led auspices. These two approaches are here brought together in a conversation on the politics of resistance to a neoliberal-led mineral regime. Using prior research on mining in the Philippines, the chapter highlights the link between global mineral extraction and the response of states, civil society, and local communities to economic globalisation.

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Lucy Baker and Jesse Burton

This chapter examines recent developments in the South African electricity sector. The largely coal-fired sector accounts for 45 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and is dominated by the state-owned monopoly utility Eskom. Since the introduction of private power producers in 2011, investment in utility scale renewable energy projects has started to make a small but significant contribution to supply, providing competitive alternatives to Eskom generation. The chapter outlines how electricity policy is embedded within long-standing political and economic forces, and subject to diverse and often conflicting interests. The chapter develops an analytical framework that links the literature on socio-technical transitions with that of the political economy of electricity. The South African case highlights that energy transitions are not merely about technological choices, but are embedded in institutional arrangements that may have unintended consequences or may be borne of broader political struggles that go beyond climate change considerations and indeed may limit the potential for transformation of the sector.

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Ralitsa Hiteva, Tim Foxon and Katherine Lovell

This chapter discusses the political economy of low carbon infrastructure, proposing an extended, and inclusive definition of low carbon infrastructure. This places emphasis on adopting a systemic approach, building on integration between different elements, interdependencies, and cumulative and networked effects of infrastructure. Changes in governance arrangements could promote more inclusive infrastructure decision-making processes and enable greater consistency in aligning with the UK’s low carbon commitments under the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act. This requires attention to be paid to the range of social, environmental and economic values (social justice, equality and giving people more influence in important government decisions), which struggle to find place in traditional cost–benefit analysis of infrastructure. Using a business model framework for thinking about infrastructure in terms of creating and capturing value, the chapter shows how certain elements of low carbon infrastructure can be used to address core governance challenges through two case studies: of transnational municipal networks and local supply networks.

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Caroline Kuzemko, Michael F. Keating and Andreas Goldthau

This chapter makes the case for nexus thinking in the study of the international political economy of energy and resources, that is their inter-dependencies with other policy areas. It argues that it is imperative to go beyond an IPE of ‘just energy’ – rather than treating it as truly ‘discrete’ – to understand energy and resources as part of dynamic inter-relationship with other issue areas. In addition to the ones related to climate change, security and development, nexuses as identified in the chapter include the energy–technology nexus, the energy–water nexus, the energy–food nexus, or the global–local nexus in energy, all of which are increasingly identified within some global and national governance organisations and within recent scholarship. The chapter suggests that from a scholarly point of view this establishes energy as a highly complex, interconnected policy area – both in terms of how energy markets and technical regimes are constituted, their implications for other issue areas, and in terms of the extent to which governance institutions are being designed that stretch across these issue areas. Moreover, the chapter makes the case for the ‘IPE toolkit’ being well equipped to capture energy nexuses in their various forms and shapes. Finally, the chapter lays out the structure and the content of the Handbook.

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Tim Boersma and Akos Losz

This chapter offers a comprehensive assessment of the rapidly changing international political economy (IPE) of natural gas. On the one hand, the shale revolution puts an end to previous notions of resource scarcity, while liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade increasingly connects regional gas markets and international pricing patterns are increasingly reflective of market fundamentals. On the other hand, most investments in new energy sources flow to renewable technologies. The chapter explores what this paradigm shift means for markets, states, and the power dynamics between established and new players in the emerging natural gas landscape. It finds that with the coming-of-age of natural gas, American LNG will increasingly challenge the market power of established players such as Russia and Qatar. At the same time, the chapter argues, the climate regime, national politics and infrastructure bottlenecks render the role of gas in the future energy system highly uncertain.

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Stefanie Onder

The Philippines is a country rich in natural resources, such as minerals, agricultural land and fisheries, but this wealth is threatened by fast economic growth, rapid urbanisation and climate change. Evidence-based decision making can help balance the need for economic growth with sustainable resource management. Natural capital accounts (NCA), in particular, can provide the data and analysis needed to effectively manage the often competing claims on natural resources, and can help monitor and assess possible development options. Over the past few years, the Philippines has emerged as a global leader in the field, the first developing country to produce ecosystem accounts for two pilot sites – Southern Palawan and the Laguna de Bay basin. These ecosystem accounts have not only provided critical information on the current degraded states of the two pilot sites, but have also helped identify policy options to improve the management of these resources. Moreover, the process of developing the ecosystem accounts has helped build broad-based support for natural capital accounting and its use in decision making. There are thus plans for the ecosystem accounts to be (1) used for policy and scenario analysis, (2) scaled up to the provincial and national level, and (3) institutionalised as a regular function of government.

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Llewelyn Hughes and Rainer Quitzow

The chapter reviews research on public policy in low-carbon technology industries with a particular emphasis on the implications of an important change in the structure of global production – the rise of global production networks (GPNs). It argues that GPNs in low-carbon technologies have particularly important implications for a core concern within the field of IPE: how do policies implemented by national governments interact in a global economy characterised by profound interdependence? This question takes on particular importance because markets for low-carbon technologies are highly dependent on government intervention. The chapter shows that the characteristics of the underlying technologies – such as solar photovoltaic and wind turbines – help explain the patterns of global production in low-carbon technologies, and to what extent public policies influence GPN formation.

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Jessica Britton

Transitioning to a low carbon energy system is likely to require significant changes to social, political and economic structures, as well as technological changes. This raises a number of questions regarding the role of different actors and organisations, including various levels of the state. This chapter explores the, often under under-represented, role of cities in the energy transition through analysis of their role in the development of heat networks. Based on research in the UK the chapter suggests a number of local authorities are challenging their traditional ‘enabling’ role in the energy system and seeking to take a role in the ownership and delivery of heat networks. This provides evidence of the energy transition offering opportunities for new configurations of state-market interrelations, with sub-national public sector actors using the development of local-scale energy infrastructure to deliver multiple priorities. Although there is limited debate, at the central government level, of this changing role for local government there is evidence that the broader devolution agenda in the UK may, in part, have empowered local governments to re-evaluate their role in the energy sector. This move towards local governments taking a more central role in the energy system may therefore demonstrate how broader governance and decentralisation trends are interlinked with the progress of the energy transition.