China Studies Academic Seminar: The Energy Security Paradox



The Energy Security Paradox: Rethinking energy (in) security in the United States and China

The lecture will be based on Dr Jonna Nyman forthcoming book, titled 'The Energy Security Paradox: Rethinking Energy (In)security in the United States and China'. It will be published by Oxford University Press either in late 2017, or early 2018.


Dr Jonna Nyman

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield


Despite increasing environmental degradation, states continue to approach energy politics with business-as-usual attitudes. Research on climate change shows that the low carbon transition is not happening fast enough, and change is unlikely without a radical change in how states approach energy security. The existing debate on energy security has been characterised by competing perspectives on how to best provide secure supplies and prices, and it has centred on states and fossil fuels. Security is central to these debates, yet they question neither the meaning of energy security nor what security means. In contrast, I take a critical approach to energy and security that foregrounds these questions. Security is usually equated with survival or safety, but it is also a process or practice that has consequences: when we call something an issue of security that affects how we see it and how it is treated in policy terms. In conventional security debates the ‘thing’ to be secured is always the state. But security is neither neutral, nor does it objectively exist: it is constructed and political.

The Energy Security Paradox looks at contemporary energy security politics in the United States and China, tracing policy from 2004-2016, to show how and why the ways in which the United States and China approach energy security cause insecurity. Based on this, I argue that we need to rethink how we approach energy security, and that we can use attempts to contest dominant practices to do so.