Decarbonizing Dialogues? EU External Energy Governance with Emerging Powers

Franziska Müller, Michèle Knodt, Nadine Piefer

Decarbonisation has risen on global energy agendas following the outcome of the Paris climate conference. However, to move this concept beyond mere buzzword stage, political action is desperately needed. Doing so, new forms of political cooperation that foster relations with emerging powers are able to outline valuable opportunities for global energy governance. One such case are the European Union's bilateral energy dialogues, that involve EU public and private actors as well as their counterparts from Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. Offering a flexible and open arena, they can serve as an important political instrument that allows communication and coordination over energy issues. Our paper explores the established dialogue fora and investigates their dialogic quality both through comparative network analyses and a cross-country survey. We therefore present a "mapping" of the four energy dialogues done via network analysis, which allows discussing the density of the networks as well as the frequency of information exchange. Our aim is to explore the facets of European external energy governance with emerging powers by taking into account governance arrangements, normative interpretations (i.e. norms such as sustainability, competitiveness and energy security), and actors' mutual perceptions (i.e. self- and xeno images of the actors). We then compare the normative orders and interests of each bilateral dialogue in order to identify common grounds that can serve as a basis for successful sustainability communication. We then outline policy recommendations in order to fully tap the potential of political dialogues for effective energy transition governance.

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