Thijs Van de Graaf

Thijs Van de Graaf
Ghent University | UGhent · Department of Political Sciences

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75
Publications
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Introduction
I am an Associate Professor of International Politics at the Ghent Institute for International Studies, Ghent University, Belgium. My research covers energy security, international politics and global governance.

Publications

Publications (75)
Book
Full-text available
Ever since the Industrial Revolution energy has been a key driver of world politics. From the oil crises of the 1970s to today’s rapid expansion of renewable energy sources, every shift in global energy patterns has important repercussions for international relations. In this new book, Thijs Van de Graaf and Benjamin Sovacool uncover the intricat...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past decades, the growing proliferation of international institutions governing the global environment has impelled institutional interplay as a result of functional and norma-tive overlap across multiple regimes. This article synthesizes primary contributions made in research on institutional interplay over the past twenty years, with par...
Article
Full-text available
The Paris climate goals and the Glasgow Climate Pact require anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions to decline to net zero by mid-century. This will require overcoming carbon lock-in throughout the energy system. Previous studies have focused on ‘committed emissions’ from capital investments in energy-consuming infrastructure, or potential...
Chapter
The Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law is a landmark reference work, providing definitive and comprehensive coverage of this dynamic field. The Encyclopedia is organised into 12 volumes around top-level subjects – such as water, energy and climate change – that reflect some of the most pressing issues facing us today. Each volume probes the ke...
Article
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This article analyses the geopolitical stakes in the hydrogen race. Hydrogen is well positioned to become the next great prize, but for all the hype, hydrogen will not become the new oil and it is unlikely to ever eclipse oil’s market share in the world’s energy mix, let alone match its geostrategic significance. Since hydrogen is a conversion rath...
Chapter
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Hydrogen and derived fuels (such as hydrogen-based ammonia and methanol) are currently enjoying renewed political and business momentum, based on the declining cost of renewable electricity and surging interest in deep decarbonization, as more and more countries rally behind net zero emission targets by mid-century. This chapter presents an overvie...
Chapter
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This chapter reviews this literature on environmental regime complexes. The first section clarifies the definition of regime complex and distinguishes it from similar concepts. The following three sections look respectively at the emergence, the development, and the consequences of regime complexes. The fifth section surveys the different methods u...
Article
Over the past few years, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been one of the most divisive issues in EU politics, with some member states opposing the project, others supporting it, and a third group adopting a neutral stance. Which conditions explain these varying national positions? Our study offers the first systematic attempt to examine preferen...
Article
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While most hydrogen research focuses on the technical and cost hurdles to a full-scale hydrogen economy, little consideration has been given to the geopolitical drivers and consequences of hydrogen developments. The technologies and infrastructures underpinning a hydrogen economy can take markedly different forms, and the choice over which pathway...
Article
Scholars of the EU’s external relations have long debated the question which ‘power’ the EU represents. When it comes to the EU’s external energy relations, there is a convergence of views that the Commission has begun to assert its regulatory power beyond its own borders. Yet, few scholars have attempted to open the black box of this ‘liberal merc...
Article
In this perspectives piece, an interdisciplinary team of social science researchers considers the implications of Covid-19 for the politics of sustainable energy transitions. The emergency measures adopted by states, firms, and individuals in response to this global health crisis have driven a series of political, economic and social changes with p...
Chapter
The Organization of the Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) faces a perfect storm. It is squeezed between the revolution in unconventionals, which has increased the global supply of hydrocarbons and lowered their price, and the prospect of a global peak in oil demand, stemming from climate policies and the falling costs of alternative energy techn...
Chapter
The U.S. is an important actor in international climate and clean energy politics. Over the last thirty years, however, it has oscillated between engagement and dis-engagement. This chapter explores the role of the U.S. in climate and clean energy politics, with a focus on three key questions. First, we examine the domestic factors that explain U.S...
Article
De covid-19 pandemie zou wel eens een onverwachte deeltjesversneller kunnen zijn voor de energietransitie. De voorwaarde is wel dat regeringen zich niet laten vangen door kortetermijndenken en deze kans grijpen om aan de weg te timmeren naar een fossielvrije toekomst. Dat zou niet alleen goed zijn voor het klimaat, maar ook voor de economie en onze...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic is the single biggest demand shock to global energy markets since World War II. Can major oil companies reinvent themselves fast enough to survive, or even thrive, in the new economy? Or will they suffer the fate of Kodak, which stuck with outdated analogue film until it was too late?
Article
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The COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland, made clear the divisions between the winners and losers of a low-carbon energy transition. The IPCC's 1.5 °C report shows that climate change mitigation must see an early peak in oil demand and a rapid fall in consumption thereafter. The ‘shale revolution’ and the falling cost and rapid deployment of renewable...
Article
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Why do some international norms succeed, whereas others fail? We argue that norm campaigns are more likely to succeed when the actions they prescribe are framed as a solution to salient problems that potential adopters face, even if different from the problem that originally motivated norm entrepreneurs. For instance, the campaign to reduce environ...
Article
In 2017, the UK and Canada launched the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’ (PPCA), a coalition of governments, organisations and businesses seeking to establish a phase-out of coal for electricity generation by 2050 at the latest. Yet, most of the countries that have signed the charter do not burn coal in large quantities. Some do not even burn coal at...
Book
Full-text available
Aware that the growing deployment of renewables has set in motion a global energy transformation with significant implications for geopolitics, Adnan Z. Amin, the Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), with the support of the Governments of Germany, Norway and the United Arab Emirates, convened the Global Commission...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Fundamental changes are taking place in the global energy system which will affect almost all countries and will have wide-ranging geopolitical consequences. Renewables have moved to the centre of the global energy landscape. Technological advances and falling costs have made renewables grow faster than any other energy source. Many renewable techn...
Article
In 2017, the UK and Canada launched the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’ (PPCA), a coalition of governments, organisations and businesses seeking to establish a phase-out of coal for electricity generation by 2050 at the latest. Yet, most of the countries that have signed the charter do not burn coal in large quantities. Some do not even burn coal at...
Article
Full-text available
This article argues that the oil industry is unlikely to return to the pre-2014 status quo as two profound shifts in technology and markets are dramatically changing the longer-term outlook for the oil industry. In the short term, traditional producers will feel persistent pressure from the shale revolution, a disruptive technology that has altered...
Article
Full-text available
To stop global warming at well below 2° C, the bulk of the world’s fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground. Coal is the fossil fuel with the greatest proportion that cannot be used, and various advocacy groups are campaigning for a ban on the opening of new coal mines. Recently, both China and the USA implemented temporary moratoria...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter seeks to explain the top-down emergence and incomplete diffusion of fossil fuel subsidy reform as an international norm. Our focus lies on the international level. We first trace the long history of multilateral efforts to address fossil fuel subsidies, before interpreting the role of norm entrepreneurs, political opportunity structure...
Article
Polycentric governance networks are on the rise in global energy and climate governance, but we know surprisingly little about their empirical performance. This paper analyzes the performance of four such transnational energy and climate governance networks. In the realm of sustainable energy, our cases are the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficienc...
Chapter
Full-text available
Oil and gas producers such as the OPEC countries and Russia are easily portrayed as the ‘losers’ of a transition to renewables. This chapter investigates their role in the new energy game and explores the strategies they could employ in a carbon-constrained world. After recounting how and why petroleum became the most important energy source in the...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter explores inter-organizational relations in the field of global energy governance. It starts by mapping the policy field of energy governance, the existing literature, and the multilateral energy architecture. It then performs an organization-set analysis of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is widely regarded as the most adv...
Article
In June 2017, the Trump administration decided to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate agreement adopted in 2015 by 195 nations. The exit of the US has not just raised concern that the US will miss its domestic emission reduction targets, but also that other parties to the Paris Agreement might backtrack on their initial ple...
Article
European countries have developed strikingly different responses to shale gas and fracking. Some have imposed outright bans, while others have issued permits and even awarded generous tax breaks to the industry. To explain this puzzling variance, this article builds a theoretical framework that focuses on energy security, economic competitiveness,...
Article
This essay explores the link between energy security and the 2014 Ukraine crisis. Whenever there is an international conflict involving a major oil or gas producer, commentators are often quick to assume a direct link, and the Ukraine crisis was no exception. Yet, the various avenues through which energy politics have affected the Ukraine crisis, a...
Article
This article examines the contribution of the G7 and G20 to energy governance following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and its continued support for Russophile separatists in eastern Ukraine afterwards. The Ukraine crisis is arguably the most severe security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War. Given Russia’s position as the...
Book
This Handbook is the first volume to analyse the International Political Economy, the who-gets-what-when-and-how, of global energy. Divided into five sections, it features 28 contributions that deal with energy institutions, trade, transitions, conflict and justice. The chapters span a wide range of energy technologies and markets - including oil a...
Article
Transnational standards for disclosure have become a defining feature of global governance and sound economic development, yet little is known about their effectiveness. This study statistically explores the efficacy of such standards for the important case of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international non-government...
Article
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Over the past few years, global energy governance (GEG) has emerged as a major new field of enquiry in international studies. Scholars engaged in this field seek to understand how the energy sector is governed at the global level, by whom and with what consequences. By focusing on governance, they broaden and enrich the geopolitical and hard-nosed...
Chapter
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The global political economy of energy is marked by a fragmentation of actors, institutions and frames. The goal of this chapter is to map and critically interpret this fragmented landscape of energy governance. First, it provides a deconstruction of the global energy challenge, arguing that the world does not face a singular energy problem but in...
Chapter
Perhaps not since the 1970s has energy policy, technology, and security been so intensely discussed as today. Whether it is the race for energy resources in the Arctic, roller-coaster oil prices, the transition toward low carbon sources of energy, or concerns over nuclear safety, energy continues to make international headlines. Today’s pressing en...
Article
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There is mounting evidence that global oil demand will peak between 2020 and 2040, supported by rational economics (inter-fuel competition and efficiency gains) and environmental policies. The perspective of a peak in world oil demand poses a serious economic threat to petrostates whose GDP largely depends on oil export revenues. This article devel...
Article
The new rush to discover and exploit hydrocarbon resources in West Africa, and particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, has raised hopes in the affected countries for new petroleum wealth and economic development. History shows, however, that major oil and gas discoveries have a very mixed record, at best, in terms of societal gains and political stabil...
Book
Full-text available
The rise of new powers such as China and India is sending shockwaves through the global multilateral system. Yet, not every multilateral institution is affected in the same way and many institutions have developed different responses to the global power shift. This volume is the first to systematically examine these different responses. It looks in...
Chapter
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The introduction sets the stage for the book by describing how the global multilateral architecture is cracking under the tectonic power shifts that characterize the world economy. It sketches the debate about the necessity and feasibility of adapting international institutions to these new realities. The introduction explains that the main purpose...
Chapter
Full-text available
Created in 1974 by industrialized Western countries in response to the first oil shock, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is generally regarded as the world’s foremost multilateral energy organization. The IEA was founded with two principal purposes. One was to administer a system of strategic oil stocks that could be jointly deployed in case o...
Article
How does informal governance occur in international organisations? While the existing literature suggests that power asymmetries matter a great deal for explaining the uncodified rules and procedures that often develop within international organisations, we argue that power asymmetries alone cannot explain informal governance. Consequently, we deve...
Article
Why do states create overlapping international institutions? This practice presents a puzzle: conventional wisdom suggests that states should use existing institutions to minimize the transaction costs of co-operation. This article proposes a bargaining approach to explain the de novo creation of overlapping international institutions. In this mode...
Chapter
In dit hoofdstuk brengen we een korte inleiding tot de studie van de internationale politiek, doorgaans aangeduid als de ‘internationale betrekkingen’. We starten met een korte defiitie van Internationale Betrekkingen1, geven vervolgens een overzicht van de belangrijkste theoretische scholen, gevolgd door een bespreking van een paar belangrijke act...
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Article
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This collection of essays brings together scholars from various disciplines, based on three continents, with different theoretical and methodological interests, but all active in the subfield of global environmental governance (GEG). Each of them reviews the emerging literature around one specific conceptual innovation of GEG, related to one of the...
Article
In theory, unilateral, selective oil embargoes do not work, whether imposed by consumer or producer countries. The reason is that oil is fungible commodity that is traded on a world market and, therefore, selective embargoes can always be circumvented by rerouting some oil exports through third-party states. The recent US-EU unilateral oil sanction...
Article
The restrictions imposed by climate change are inevitable and will be exerted either via precautionary mitigation of (mainly energy-related) CO2 emissions or via irreversible impacts on ecosystems and on human habitats. Either way, oil markets are bound to incur drastic shrinking. Concern over peak oil supply will crumble when the irrevocable peak...
Article
The purpose of this article is to reveal how two organizations from the OECD system-the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Energy Agency-are maneuvering strategically to retain their focal places in the regime complexes that developed around taxation and energy, respectively. It argues that their bid for le...
Article
This article interprets the role and significance of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in global environmental and energy governance. First, we conduct a comparative analysis of IRENA and other recent innovations in global governance, showing that IRENA stands out with regard to the timing of creation, speed of ratification, and foc...
Book
Full-text available
1. Introduction 2. Energy and global governance 3. Morphogenesis of the energy regime complex 4. Interpreting the global energy architecture 5. Adaptation at the core: reform of the IEA 6. Diverging from the path: the creation of IRENA 7. The G8 and G20 as energy steering committees? 8. Conclusions
Article
In 2009, some member countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA) spearheaded the creation of a new international organization, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), despite the fact that the IEA had been working on renewables for decades. Why would those states create an overlapping organization, thus advancing the overall degre...
Article
This article looks at the opportunities and constraints for the G8 and G20 to act as steering committees in global energy governance. It starts from the premise that, intrinsically, informal consultation mechanisms among major powers have a large potential to act as coordinating bodies for global energy. After assessing the G8’s recent energy work,...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of a regime complex has proved fruitful to a burgeoning literature in international relations, but it has also opened up new questions about how and why they develop over time. This article describes the history of the energy regime complex as it has changed over the past 40years, and interprets this history in light of an interpretive...
Article
Full-text available
Paper prepared for the 2011 Political Economy of International Organizations meeting, Zurich, January 27-29, 2011. This draft paper represents work in progress. Please do not cite without the authors' permission. Comments are welcome at thijs.vandegraaf@ugent.be. Abstract The concept of a regime complex has proved fruitful to a burgeoning literatur...
Article
In recent years, the G8+5 system has proven to be a major focal point of international cooperation in the field of energy efficiency. The G8 has set up multiple dialogues and collaborative frameworks with five emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa) on energy and energy efficiency. The most prominent initiative so far is...
Book
Full-text available
Multipolar governance permits a number of important states to have significantly more economic and political clout than others, but among them there is hardly any hierarchy. The new energy challenge, with its intricate socio-economic, ecological and international-political considerations, is a multi-dimensional, multi-level and multi-actor issue th...
Article
Despite the mounting scholarly interest in processes of institutional change in international organizations, still very little is known about how and when such evolutionary dynamics occur. This article hopes to contribute to this young, yet growing body of literature by process-tracing the changes that have occurred in the institutional setup of th...
Article
Although it is widely recognized that today's multiple energy challenges need to be tackled through internationally coordinated action, global energy governance has remained largely underdeveloped. Since the 2005 Gleneagles summit, however, the G8 has issued several ambitious energy action plans and declarations. Through its language and actions th...
Article
Thijs Van de Graaf, Dries Lesage, Skander Nasra, Jan Orbie & Mattias Vermeiren argue that the top-level meetings of the G20 in Washington (November 2008) and London (April 2009), and the apparent reinvigoration of the G8 since the 2005 Gleneagles summit, demonstrate the growing importance of informal clubs of great powers in world politics. Whether...
Article
Even though the role of the European Union (EU) in international organizations has generated increasing academic and political interest, scant attention has been devoted to the EU’s participation in the Group of Eight (G8). The launch of the renewed Group of Twenty (G20), however, has sparked intense debate among member states about the way in whic...

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Projects (2)
Project
We are pleased to introduce a new initiative by the Ghent Insitute for International and European Studies (GIES): the GIES Occasional Papers. Taken aback at the shocking acts of aggression by the Russian authorities in Ukraine, our research group aimed to look inwards and build on our expertise to shine a light on the crisis. Starting today, we will publish contributions by our researchers on a daily basis.
Project
The goal of this project is to provide a platform for discussion about issues related to energy politics, policy and governance. One of the aim of this is to establish an ECPR Standing Group on Energy Policy Research (or with similar name), however, the platform should serve energy policy community in general. Members are encouraged to share their research, ask questions, post calls for papers, etc. Also, do not forget to fill in your e-mail address into the googlesheet below so we can let the sheer amount of energy-interested researchers speak for itself when presenting our proposal to ECPR: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OV-GYUMM_EAbiQYfOWUybGRUKeLZ4TYjgBfFMa3ZQCM/edit#gid=0