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International regimes as knowledge syndicates? Energy and trends of global governance

Nº 29,  març    2011
  • Autor/s: Andrea Ciambra

Traditional state power and sovereignty are steadily being eroded, especially in terms of the provision of certain fundamental ´public goods´. States, in particular, are incapable of managing the knowledge and information which is essential to maintain competitiveness and sustainability in an interdependent economy. Reliable structures of global governance and international cooperation, however, are far from being established. Energy—a top-of-the-agenda issue for most governments, private entrepreneurs and civil societies—is a manifest example of these dynamics. The current system of energy global governance entails policy actions scattered over diverse actors. The International Energy Agency has a prominent role, but it is weakened by its limited membership, and knowledge-driven (´epistemic‘) rather than material or executive powers. This paper argues that neither membership size nor available means are hampering global energy governance. Rather, energy is one of a number of public goods which lie in limbo—where states cannot afford their provision, and diverse interests prevent the establishment of an international authority. After introducing international regime theory and the concept of knowledge-based epistemic communities, the paper reviews the current state of global energy governance. It then provides a comparison of this structure with national and regional governance regimes on the one hand, and with environmental and health global regimes on the other.

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