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Carbon Capitalism and World Order

Part of the Palgrave Handbooks in IPE book series (PHIPE)

Abstract

This chapter offers an overview and critique of how mainstream theories in IR and IPE have treated the question of energy. Assuming a critical political economy perspective, we make three arguments. First, traditional theories have an inadequate understanding of the relationship between fossil fuel energy and the development of global capitalism and a liberal world order. Second, the capital as power approach offers a more illuminating perspective than its theoretical rivals. Third, the source and supply of world energy and energy systems are just as foundational as conflict and war, the state and society, and labour and capital in the (re-)making of the capitalist world order. As such, scholars must incorporate an appreciation for the role of non-renewable fossil fuel energy into future discussions of modern capitalism.

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Fig. 34.1
Fig. 34.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    With minor exceptions, see Gill and Law 1988; Balaam and Dillman 2013; Di Muzio and Ovadia 2016.

  2. 2.

    Another branch of IPE energy literature is known as ‘resource curse’ theory/development, which is taken up by a variety of scholars and perspectives. See Auty 1993; Watts 2004; Zalik 2008; Obi 2010; McNeish and Logan 2012.

  3. 3.

    The value of Nokia is taken from the Financial Times 500 2008 and the value of Nokia at the time of this writing is taken from Google Finance (accessed 26 September 2017).

  4. 4.

    Wallace Witkowski (2015) ‘Global stock market cap has doubled since QE’s start’ Market Watch http://www.marketwatch.com/story/global-stock-market-cap-has-doubled-since-qes-start-2015-02-12 (27 September 2017).

  5. 5.

    All numbers are rounded. This does not include nationally owned oil and gas producers like Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil Company, and so on. See Di Muzio 2012.

  6. 6.

    http://www.nexindex.com/ (accessed 20 January 2017).

  7. 7.

    ‘OECD Europe declining to 22.2% in 2016 from 49.1% in 1971, while the OECD Americas dropped from 41.0% in 1971 to 27.1% in 2016. Meanwhile in OECD Asia Oceania, generation from coal has risen from 18.0% in 1971 to 39.4% in 2016’ (IEA 2017a: 8).

  8. 8.

    ‘China, which lifted its investment by 17% to $102.9 billion, or 36% of the world total’ (UNEP 2016: 11).

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Di Muzio, T., Dow, M. (2019). Carbon Capitalism and World Order. In: Shaw, T., Mahrenbach, L., Modi, R., Yi-chong, X. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary International Political Economy. Palgrave Handbooks in IPE. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-45443-0_34

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