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"Is the World on Fire?" Explaining Geopolitics, Energy, and Climate in Crisis

20 November 2023
Our hunger for fossil fuels is at the root of the climate crisis, (colonial) wars, economic recessions, and other miseries. We need a global energy transformation, and the first steps have already been taken. As we reduce our dependence on oil, coal, and gas, renewable energy is becoming the backbone of a new system. Will this transformation make the world a safer place?

Mathieu Blondeel, researcher in climate and energy policy at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, has incorporated his research into the book "Is the World on Fire?". Blondeel is also a member of the new Climate Knowledge Center at VU Amsterdam. Moniek de Jong, a postdoctoral researcher in political science at the University of Ghent (Belgium), contributed to the book.

According to Blondeel, we must avoid exchanging our dependence on fossil fuels for dependence on lithium, cobalt, and nickel. This, he argues, does not solve the problem at hand. "There are already calls to establish production cartels similar to OPEC (for oil) around lithium and nickel. The risks of unequal dependencies are very real," says Blondeel.

The challenges and obstacles are immense, as the world changes rapidly, and the impact on the energy sector is significant. The increasing geopolitical tensions between the US and China, for example, have acquired a crucial energy dimension, with mutual trade restrictions that could hinder the rapid deployment of green technologies. For the EU, this is an opportunity to rethink its economy and society fundamentally. But will it succeed?

Blondeel describes the book as "burningly topical," written for a broad audience. "It brings contemporary issues at the intersection of geopolitics, energy, and the climate crisis together and also attempts to formulate future-oriented solutions." The book will be released on November 24.

For more information and a (digital) review copy, please contact Mathieu Blondeel at or +31 20 59 81080.