Winter 2013

The Transnational Politics of Energy

Robert Owen Keohane and David G. Victor

Creating effective energy policy is hard, in part because it often requires effective international coordination. For most salient energy-related issues – such as control of the emissions that cause global climate change or the building of stockpiles to make oil supplies more secure – international coordination is inherently difficult. Solutions lie in making these problems more manageable by working in small groups of relevant countries; successful cooperation also hinges on finding incentive-compatible commitments that align, to the extent feasible, with national interests and are focused on areas where cooperation will yield tangible joint gains. The outcomes of such cooperation efforts are likely to be decentralized complexes of networked institutions rather than integrated, hierarchical treaties that govern a coherently defined issue-area.

ROBERT O. KEOHANE, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1983, is Professor of Public and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has served as Editor of International Organization and as President of the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association. His publications include Power and Interdependence (with Joseph S. Nye, Jr., 1977), Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (with Gary King and Sidney Verba, 1994), and Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World (2002).

DAVID G. VICTOR is a Professor in the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he also serves as Director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation. His publications include Climate Change: Debating America's Policy Options (2004); Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040 (edited with Amy M. Jaffe and Mark H. Hayes, 2006); and Global Warming Gridlock: Creating More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet (2011), which The Economist named one of the best books of the year.

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