The World’s First Energy Crisis

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The global energy market is in a state of upheaval. The war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions against Russian oil and gas have forced the West, especially Europe, to quickly find new energy sources to keep the lights on and the cars running this summer. In the United States, rising gas prices are pushing President Joe Biden to make a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia to encourage the oil-rich state to increase production. This scramble for quick-fix energy solutions comes as the world is trying to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and reduce the effects of climate change. How will these short-term needs affect the urgent but longer-term transition to clean energy? And could today’s energy market turbulence be a harbinger of challenges to come as the global energy system is remade?

Jason Bordoff is the co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and the founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as senior director for energy and climate change on the National Security Council. Meghan O’Sullivan is a professor of international affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she was deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. Together, they bring years of experience—both inside and outside of government—to the debates around energy, climate, economics, and geopolitics.

We discuss how the war in Ukraine continues to affect the global energy market, Biden’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, how governments can meet their energy security needs without decelerating the green transition, and why changes in the global energy system will continue to disrupt geopolitics.

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