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 15: Energy, climate change and conflict: securitization of migration, mitigation and geoengineering

Jürgen Scheffran


In many of the world’s conflicts energy resources have been an influential factor (Singer 2008; Singer and Scheffran 2004). This is partly due to the dual nature of energy: while energy use is important for human life and society, a precondition for social development and economic prosperity, it may also cause risk, destruction and death. Physical power from energy can be converted into political power, and physical force is a tool used in violent acts. Traditionally, energy security has been framed in terms of ensured access to energy resources to meet political and economic goals, while the lack of energy is perceived as a security threat. Security risks and conflicts can also result from the use and misuse of energy, its side-effects and unbalanced distribution. In turn, violent conflicts and social disruption impede access to energy resources. Each component of the energy system can become a target of attack or resistance by state and non-state actors, including dams, reactors and power grids. On the other hand, energy use as well as the prevention of risks and conflicts is a field for international cooperation and global security. Energy security strongly depends on its geographical and geopolitical context. The components of the fossil-nuclear energy system – coal, oil and natural gas reserves, uranium mines as well as the connecting infrastructures, networks and transportation routes – have shaped the global conflict landscape in the past century (Yergin 1991, 2011).

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