Get access

A Public Policy Perspective on Global Energy Security


  • Author’s note: I would like to thank the participants of the Global Energy Governance panel at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in New Orleans, February 18, 2010; the participants of the CEU Energy Policy Research Group workshop in March 2010; the participants of the 10th Millennium CISS conference in Venice, July 4, 2010; and two anonymous reviewers for their input to earlier versions of this paper.


Goldthau, Andreas. (2011) A Public Policy Perspective on Global Energy Security.International Studies Perspectives,,doi: 10.1111/j.1528-3585.2011.00448.x
© 2011 International Studies Association

Despite an emerging literature on global energy governance, there so far is no extensive intellectual rationale for it. This article seeks to fill this gap by putting forward a public policy framework to analyze global energy. With that lens, energy security relates to problems of market failure at a transnational scale. These may occur due to imperfect competition; negative externalities; lack of information; or the presence of public goods. It is argued that major global energy risks such as oil price volatility, lack of transport infrastructure, and insufficient upstream investments can be convincingly conceptionalized as markets failing to provide for a crucial good—energy security. This article thus proposes market failure as an analytical justification of and as an intellectual foundation for further research in global energy governance, and sketches possible research agendas in that field.