The Role of Global Governance in Decarbonizing the Energy Sector

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of energy supply and demand in social progress and human evolution, energy contributes to the reconfiguration of inclusive growth (Y. Akinwale, 2013). It supports the evolution of a country’s well-being, youth development, and manufacturing sectors, and, most importantly, it generates more job opportunities. Because of the indispensability of energy, a larger number of people, industries, and communities in every country has led to calls for more energy consumption for their everyday routines. ‘Figure 1’ below shows that world energy consumption has increased significantly in the last 200 years, and on top of that, energy derived from non-sustainable means has increased the most, like coal and oil.

Energy Consumption of the planet from 1820-2010Figure 1: Energy Consumption of the planet from 1820-2010 (Joni Karjalainen, 2014)

The importance of energy usage has contributed to the requirement for alternative green technologies. To that end, the link among global distribution of renewable energy and global sustainable development inside the world has compelled governments all over the planet to embrace transition to alternative energy sources by decarbonizing to ensure long-term evolution, which is sustainable to reverse climate change (R.B. Jackson, 2018). At around the same period, individual countries’ ability to handle and architect their own individual decarbonization is corroding (Elisa Papadis, 2020). Less and less nations can rely solely on their own energy policies, resources, and energy (Elisa Papadis, 2020). Moreover, many countries lack the capability to galvanize the financial capital required and knowledge needed to combine and implement the engineering solutions which are probable to assist efficient individual decarbonization, including, for example, carbon capture and deposit, nuclear energy, sustainable energy infrastructure, and smart grid. In this regard, energy shares main attributes with other industries, most notably increased system-wide interdependence, externalities that transcends national boundaries, and a decline in individual countries’ representative capacity (Aleh Cherp, 2011). Thus, climate change-induced decarbonization requires global governance. Here, we will briefly look at global governance’s importance in securing climate justice and leading to efficient decarbonization

Identifying the Problem

Human sectors of the economy have always placed energy at the center of their operations (McLeman, 2012). Recently, the involvement of energy in accomplishing growth targets and influencing sustainability practices has been highlighted. Nonetheless, the global decarbonization process is directly confronted with several crucial problems that, when combined, are unparalleled.

This would include quickly growing energy needs in the time of overwhelming global distribution of conventional fossil fuel reserves; a need to minimize the consequences of energy technologies on the environment on a global level; and the absence of availability to technologically advanced types of energy for billions of individuals, with accumulation in only the first world nations (Stefan Pfenninger, 2014). The issue of capital investment is fully evident in emerging third-world nations (K.Sovacool, 2009). Energy infrastructure needs are widely estimated to be somewhere around $1 and $2 trillion annually over the next few decades or double the present US yearly basis GDP (Aleh Cherp, 2011). This is a humongous, immediate, international, and institutional concern. Their massive magnitude is intimidating.

“The impacts of climate change will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, older and younger generations and people of each and every country”, according to a (United Nations, 2019) blogpost. The framework of the problem shows that a reasonable method of coping with climate losses on only one side and a just allocation of combustion privileges on another is a complicated situation. It varies from the classic dilemma about how to react to historical wrongs, in which we frequently face issues that predecessors of one group wronged previous generations from another group, and newer generations of both groups are already searching for an adequate way to respond to this historical fact (Roser, 2010). Nevertheless, in the discourse over climate change, we are confronted with the circumstance in which prior generations of one group (the North) directly affect so much to the disadvantage of subsequent generations of the other group (the South) (Caney, 2009).

Not all environmental consequences are formed or dispersed in the same way. Environment change’s consequences, from heat waves to sea level rise, frequently have disproportionally large consequences on historically disadvantaged or disadvantaged people (IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change ), 2007). In a broad sense, numerous victims of global warming bear inordinately little responsibility for causing the energy consumption that causes global warming in the first place – particularly young generation or individuals of any years old living in developing third world nations that make fewer capita emissions than significant harmful emissions nations (Parks, 2009). 

For example, Zambia seems to have 1.2 million impoverished people, and approximately 60% of its 18.4 million citizens live below the global poverty threshold of $1.90 (£1.40) daily. Women produce 60% of the nation’s nutrition, but women-headed households encounter higher rates of poverty than men-headed families. Malnutrition in Zambia has been ascribed to severe droughts but soaring grain costs and flooding have also played a role (James Thurlow, 2012). Zimbabwe suffers from food insecurity because of progressively extreme weather events, resulting in 6.6 million people requiring humanitarian support. Upwards of a third of the population (5.7 million) seems to be vulnerable to food insecurity (Makadho, 1996).

Rise in the global inequality gap because of climate changeFigure 2: Rise in the global inequality gap because of climate change (Pratt, 2015)

Studies by (TasneemAbbasi, 2011) (Steinberg, 1999) (Hoffmann, 2018) have shown that decarbonization globally is not possible without the contribution of each and every country. Still, it has been noted that due to expensive eco-friendly alternatives, decarbonization is not among the top objectives of most nations, especially the third world. Generally, the working-class living in these countries suffer the consequences of the exorbitant prices, as shown in ‘Figure 2’ above, the average income of the poorest 40% of the countries will reduce by 75% by 2100 due to climate change (T.A.Napp, 2014). If the transition away from fossil fuels threatens to precipitate an eco-friendly recession, the unforeseen drop in other areas of the economy will lead to widespread income inequality (Padilla, 2011).

The critical question thus seems to be: What international agreement will be needed to make this action plan of decarbonization inclusive and equitable?

Presenting the Solution

Climate Justice and Global Governance

There is a necessity for an unparalleled transfiguration of international energy systems steered by equal distribution globally and commonly unified energy priorities aimed at addressing these obstacles (Lo, 2020). Decarbonization will only be beneficial if it meets the multilateral, ever-increasing requirements of people equally. Especially those that are acutely susceptible to even minor interruptions, with marginal implications of climate change and dangers of jeopardy or multiplication of nuclear weapons (Roman Vakulchuk, 2020). According to the author, this is possible only through ‘Climate Justice.’

Climate Justice can be defined as an ecological ideology that seeks collective, environmental, and economic equality for those who have donated the slightest to climate change but are highly likely to be among the most impacted by this (Aylett, 2010). The dilemma as to who should bear the consequences for the dangers of climate change emerges, as well as how to guarantee fair opportunities in policy decisions, the inclusion of all disadvantaged individuals, and equal dispensation of wealth to react to the effects of climate change (Bettini, 2013). It is a system that ensures fair opportunities and autonomy from all forms of prejudice in the face of the impacts of global warming. It is a mechanism to increase our potential to adapt to climate change, whether independently and collaboratively, through disaster preparedness and response (Rachel Brisley, 2012). Climate justice directs attention away from the previous market and financial considerations and toward a moral and political understanding of the value of equality, civil liberties, and public health and sustainability (Thombs, 2017). The climate justice idea of decarbonization is not about ownership alone; it was always about how unfairness is formed, and how those who are already vulnerable to certain other shapes of unfairness are also susceptible to climate change-induced harms (Collins, 2014).

The present study has connected the answers to these questions to the use of and for governance further than an individual country, also known as ‘global governance’ (Andrew Hargrove, 2019). (Sinclair, 2012, p. 2) defines global governance as “Global governance is a challenge to the way our world has been managed since the emergence of nation-states in seventeenth-century Europe. Most of us think of states making decisions independently. Still, global governance implies the need to make decisions collectively as a human race, given the rise of common problems like global warming.”

Nonetheless, while there has been extensive research on global governance on parts of urban health, advancement, and the environment, research around energy has been noticeably less extensive (Johan Rockström, 2017). The most noticeable piece of “modern” published research on world energy decarbonization concerns does not even address existing energy obstacles from the perspective of global governance (Boon, 2019).  

Problems faced by Global Governance for Implementing Climate Justice

Most of the world’s population lives in third-world countries, and decarbonization to avoid global warming cannot be implemented without fair distribution of resources, involvement, and financing in these nations (Gardiner, 2009). There are well-known weaknesses in the global governance of the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity (Strong, 2009). From energy, forest lands, and fish to food and nutrition security, water, and deforestation, global governance has recurrently failed to respond to danger in an assertive and timely manner, even in the head of worst-case environments (Gulbrandsen, 2004) (Conca, 2006). Global governance could not indeed proceed as if it were in a “standard operating procedure” scenario.

Fixing Global Governance to Decarbonize efficiently.

The world community needs to do more to assist poor-income nations in dealing with decarbonization, according to the IMF’s ‘World Economic Outlook’ report launched in October 2017 (Braun, 2017). According to the IMF, “advanced and emerging market economies have contributed the lion’s share of actual and projected warming” (International Monetary Fund, 2017). Assisting poor-income nations in living with the effects and helping to decarbonize is both an ethical requirement and a sound worldwide economic strategy to decarbonize efficiently (Meadowcroft, 2010).

Global governance is not possible until the first-world rich nations accept ‘historical blame’ for helping other countries prosper, especially the poor nations, in bridging established disparities and shortfalls (Moser, 2009). Rich nations promised a sum of $100 billion per year in 2009 to low-income nations that have the least historical responsibility of causing climate change to finance climate disaster risk reduction initiatives and lead toward global decarbonization (Gharib, 2021). However, new projections suggest that $6.9 trillion per year is necessary to fulfill climate and decarbonization goals through 2030, thus more work in the same direction is needed (Daniele Sofia, 2020).


Despite the reality that policymakers first consented on the significance of dealing with climate change in 1992, they are still deliberating strong and meaningful commitments 20 years later, in spite of mounting evidence of implications, the repercussions of unfulfilled promises, and the immediate need for intervention has created an obstacle on the way for a meaningful, efficient decarbonization drive (Biermann, 2001). As governments, academics, and environmental scientists continue to argue for enhanced current climate change accommodations, the real underlying, financial, and social unrest between different national government entities as well as government entities and stakeholders remains a significant impediment to improvement (Dauvergne, 2005). 

To facilitate successful decarbonization and fight climate change, we must first change existing power structures by establishing an efficient global governance model. It is about creating a robust, adequate climate justice movement to compel policymakers to serve the public good both inside their borders and globally. It is all about forming partnerships among both citizen projects and international bodies. It is all about making a case for transformation both on the roadside and in the halls of government. Only then a successful decarbonization global drive can be underway. 

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