The focal point in many big politics and international relations are oil and petroleum resources. These fossil fuels have contributed to conflicts as significant as World War II and continue to hold sway as a tension between nations. As these are non-renewable resources, countries cannot make their own if running dry, but with green energy on the horizon, will these fuel-fed tensions disappear?
The exciting thing about green energy is the implications of renewability; a self-sustaining power source that can run countries across the globe sounds pretty great. While fossil fuels phase-out, speculation is erupting over this new incentive for peace. Yet, the reality may be a bit less sunshine and solar panels than we imagine.
Access to renewable energy will allow countries to produce their power without relying on other nations, creating a new kind of security and sovereignty from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The natural resources each nation sits atop of will no longer rule their political status — for better or for worse.
While this has a utopian ring to it, poorer countries will not be equipped to make the changes necessary to go 100% green. Installing new infrastructures and equipment nation-wide is expensive, and the bankroll for such projects will have to fall on the shoulders of wealthier countries with larger economies.
This alone could increase tensions, but the competition for rare metals and building commodities needed to erect such changes will also serve as a pivotal point. Currently, China controls around 90% of these materials and therefore wields great influence for the Green New Deal.
In terms of economy, countries that have relied heavily upon oil and gas as major exports will also have to restructure their trade systems. As demand for these primary exports decreases, it introduces risks for more significant economic decline for nations such as Iraq and Nigeria. This will require richer countries to cover more financial gaps for their neighbors in order for a smooth transition to be possible. It has yet to be determined if enough countries willing to tackle this deficit have come forward.
The net-zero initiative could unite nations worldwide on a grander scale than we’ve ever seen possible. It could also cause even more friction and turmoil from crashing economies and wars for these green resources.
Will renewables solve energy conflict? Or create new pathways for war in its wake?