Renewable energy, sustainable food production, and 3D printing promise a more autonomous future on a human scale, yet the realisation of such a vision remains a long way off. Despite worldwide shocks, the geography of money and trade is global. So far at least, technological change and the energy transition are not freeing us from geopolitics but just reshaping the stakes.
Europe’s Most Stubborn Fossil Fuel
Despite the urgency of climate change, Europe’s failure to invest sufficiently in renewables means that fossil gas is now touted as a “transition fuel”. As Thomas Laffitte explores in his article, natural gas supplies are a major geopolitical issue and the impacts of Europe’s choices about its energy transition extend well beyond its borders.
Shipping Makes the World Go Round
Even as much of society shut down in 2020, container ships crisscrossed the world to keep critical services running and supermarket shelves stocked. As part of Europe’s pandemic recovery, reshoring industries is high up the agenda. Mehtap Akgüç argues that these efforts need to be led by European citizens and their needs.
The Internet Is Not in the Cloud
If data is the new oil, then control over technology, data, and infrastructure is a form of power. Alexandra Geese and Marietje Schaake discuss how the digital economy is far from immaterial and why the European Union needs to get serious about regulating its digital space.
Europe as the World’s Hydrogen Hub
More than any other continent, Europe is betting on hydrogen as a fuel of the future. Infrastructure projects abound and the first trial delivery of hydrogen-produced “green steel” was made in August 2021 in Sweden. But as Gabriela Cabaña and Mario Díaz explain, the new hydrogen economy will come at the cost of new conflicts over resources, land, and energy.
Tracing the New Silk Roads
China’s Belt and Road Initiative – a colossal infrastructure investment programme centred on Eurasia – is among the most ambitious geopolitical projects of the 21st century so far. Eric Armando explores the importance of energy to the Chinese project, and analyses some of the contradictions that could be its undoing.
As the global reserve currency, the US dollar remains king. The Federal Reserve’s swap lines – offers of emergency dollars to other central banks – helped keep the world economy from going over the brink in 2008 and 2020. As Roderick Kefferpütz argues, geopolitics increasingly trumps economics in how the world is run. The financial system is no exception.