Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

Thomas Oatley ─ The Carbon Peace

Monday, March 29, 2021

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Email WatsonEvents@brown.edu to register for the seminar.

Thomas Oatley is the Corasaniti-Zondorak Chair of International Relations at Tulane University. He focuses his research and teaching on the intersection of American hegemony and international political economy.

To what extent and in what ways did the shift from the controlled solar energy regime to the fossil fuel energy regime transform international politics? I argue that this energy regime transition may have transformed international order in ways that reduced the core’s repression of the periphery and lessened the severity great power competition and conflict. The shift to fossil fuels made energy capture less land intensive, made total energy much more abundant, and placed reproducible assets at the center of production for the first time. These transitions supported a highly inclusive carbon coalition and a negotiated settlement that distributed the resulting economic surplus between them. This model then diffused from the US to Europe, Asia, and Latin America following World War II.

The format of the seminar is a brief (5-minute) introduction by the author, some initial comments by a lead discussant (5-10 minutes), and then open comments from attendees (remainder of time). All attendees are expected to read the paper ahead of time, as the author will not present their research. This is a working session. The paper will be distributed about a week in advance of the seminar.