Foreign Affairs Newsletter


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The energy system “is the lifeblood of the global economy and underpins the geopolitical order.” Now, to curb the damaging effects of climate change, the entire system must be remade. Yet “talk of a smooth transition to clean energy is fanciful,” Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O’Sullivan warn in a new essay. “The process will be messy at best. And far from fostering comity and cooperation, it will likely produce new forms of competition and confrontation.”

How will the energy transformation reconfigure international politics? Who will win and who will lose? The stakes are high: “a failure to appreciate the unintended consequences of various efforts to reach net zero will not only have security and economic implications,” Bordoff and O’Sullivan write. Ignoring the geopolitical risks could “undermine the energy transition itself.”

Read more from Foreign Affairs on the politics of climate change:

Why Climate Policy Has Failed” by William Nordhaus

Follow the Money: How Reforming Tax and Trade Rules Can Fight Climate Change” by Jessica F. Green

The International Order Isn’t Ready for the Climate Crisis” by Stewart M. Patrick

The Climate Debt: What the West Owes the Rest” by Mohamed Adow