Shifting energy patterns alter global power centers

The Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, chaired by the former president of Iceland, has issued a report charting the ways in which the world’s shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will alter the power of individual nations.

The overall verdict: power will shift from nations with oil and gas reserves to countries able to innovate in energy technologies; energy market share and the resulting wealth will follow; and more countries will be able to ignore energy concerns when calculating their geopolitical acts and alliances.

Highlights of the report:

Much of the Middle East, northern Africa, and Russia and its satellite countries will be hit hard. These regions draw more than 25% of their GDP from the world oil trade. The gradual reduction of markets for oil will shrink their revenues and could lead to political instability at home.

With the exception of oil producers Angola and Nigeria, sun-baked sub-Saharan Africa will grow jobs and strengthen their economies by shifting to domestically produced renewable energy. India and much of South Asia, China, and Europe will gain similar benefits.

North and South America will be a wash, energy-wise. Today’s domestic oil and gas reserves and tomorrow’s renewable energy economies will enable these regions to remain relatively energy independent.

Saudi Arabia and its neighboring emirates have developed resiliency plans to survive, and even thrive, after the Oil Age ends; Russia and oil-rich countries in South America and Central Asia are poorly prepared for the changes ahead.

The report also notes that China will continue to lock up patents for green power technologies, raising the possibility that will become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’s intellectual property.


Renewable energy isn’t just about the environment. It’s an emerging global economic groundshift that will redistribute power and wealth, create jobs and new fortunes, and transform industries from architecture to manufacturing. The full implications of this transformation won’t be realized for at least another decade.

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