Tackling the Energy-Climate Security Divide – Traditional and New Approaches (US, EU and China)


Tackling the Energy-Climate Security Divide – Traditional and New Approaches (US, EU and China)


Research Question

When, how, and why do dire warnings by climate scientists on the impending disaster caused by global warming (e.g., climate change) get ignored or acted upon? When, how, and why do crises/problems like climate security and energy security become salient? What is the relationship between energy policy and climate policy? What explains when leaders, stakeholders and publics do (or do not) call for action?


This project investigates the energy-environmental security nexus as a means to explore the nature of the climate security dilemma in its rhetorical and practical policy dimensions. At a practical level, since a majority of greenhouse gases generated come from our daily use of energy (roughly two-thirds of anthropogenic GHG emissions and CO2 come from the energy sector), the fixes to the climate dilemma involve key questions about the energy choices we make as individuals, as a society, and as a globe. By default, then, tacking climate change means understanding policy action in the energy sector (and related areas) and recognizing the multiple sub-national, national, and international levels where this policy action takes place. While climate scientists generally agree that current climate change phenomena are anthropogenically induced, key governments have failed to formulate and/or implement policies to adapt to this imperative. The question is why. What is it about the nature of climate change and linked energy issues that complicates policy formulation and implementation? First, the nature of the issue itself is a challenge. There is a need to recognize that because environmental challenges like climate and its impacts do not follow national borders, the transnational nature of environmental security challenges do not fit well into traditional national policy responses, many domestic contexts, or how those policies are framed and formed to galvanize public support. Second, there are no neat or discrete solutions for single countries to implement to solve the problem, in fact most of their every-day behaviors actually exacerbate the problem. This study focuses attention on the three leading carbon emitters, the United States, the European Union, and China, and investigates their policymaking processes to better understand when, how, and why different governments and stakeholders respond as they do.

Methods Used

This project uses a comparative case study method to address the energy-climate security puzzle in the U.S., EU, and Chinese contexts. It looks at how key stakeholders from government, non-profit, industry, etc. frame the policy problem and how the process plays out to explain the policy outcome.


This is a new research project comparing the framing of climate policy in the U.S., China, and EU contexts. This project will result in a series of articles or a book length manuscript. In Fall 2015 the principal investigator is working on this project as a Senior Research Fellow with the KFG “Transformative Power of Europe Project at the Free University of Berlin.

Publication Date



International and Area Studies | Political Science

Tackling the Energy-Climate Security Divide – Traditional and New Approaches (US, EU and China)


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