Energy Transitions and International Cooperation in the 20th Century

Energy Transitions and International Cooperation in the 20th Century

PD Dr. Rüdiger Graf and PD Dr. Henning Türk (Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung/Leibniz-Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam)
Potsdam (digital)
Gefördert durch
Potsdam (Online)
Vom - Bis
10.06.2021 - 11.06.2021
Henning Türk, Abteilung II: Geschichte des Wirtschaftens, Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung

The conference analyzes systematically the connections between energy transitions and international cooperation in the 20th century.

Energy Transitions and International Cooperation in the 20th Century

Human societies have always depended on the use of energy but the dominant forms of primary energy have changed over time. Especially the 20th century witnessed dramatic energy transitions. Coal, as the major energy resource in the first two thirds of the century, was increasingly replaced by oil after the Second World War. Due to expectations of future oil scarcity and the experience of the first oil crisis in 1973/74, however, experts criticized the world’s growing dependence on oil and many governments sought to diversify their energy sectors by developing nuclear energy, which became an important factor in power generation. But, nuclear energy did not live up to its initial promises and, as environmental concerns have grown, renewable energies have emerged as serious competitors to hydrocarbons since the 1990s.

Since the “Energiewende” has become a primary political goal, a growing body of energy historiography has analyzed both the causes and consequences of earlier energy transitions. Yet, so far, there has not been a systematic discussion of the connections between energy transitions and international cooperation. The conference aims to fill this gap, combining research on energy transitions with research on international cooperation mainly in organizations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) or the International Energy Agency (IEA). We are seeking to address the following questions: How did energy transitions trigger the founding of new international organizations and how, in turn, did international organizations try to influence energy transitions? What were the effects of broader international developments, such as Cold War or the North-South conflict, on international energy cooperation? Was the wave of international institution building in the second half of the 20th century also a consequence of an increasingly globalized energy economy? And, if that was the case, will the increasing use of more local renewable forms of energy have an effect on the stability of these international institutions? Discussing these questions, the conference will aim to deepen our understanding of both energy transitions and the evolution of the international system in the 20th century.


Thursday, June 10
13.30 – 14.00: Welcome and Introduction
Rüdiger Graf (ZZF Potsdam) and Henning Türk (ZZF Potsdam)

14.00 – 15.00: Cold War Energy Cooperation: Eastern Perspectives
Susanne Schattenberg (Universität Bremen): Making Bavaria Great Again. How a Provincial Minister of Economy Changed the Federal Energy Politics of West-Germany (1960s)
Michael De Groot (Indiana University): CMEA Cooperation and Energy during the Late Cold War
Chair: Ralf Ahrens (ZZF Potsdam)

15.30 – 16.30: Cold War Energy Cooperation: Western Perspectives
Robert Gross/Odinn Melsted (Universität Innsbruck): Creating the Conditions: The European Refinery Expansion Program and the Transition from Coal to Oil, 1948–1955
Victor McFarland (University of Missouri): The United States and International Energy Cooperation
Chair: Astrid M. Eckert (Emory University)

17.00 – 18.00: New Alliances: OPEC and “Third World” Cooperation
Giuliano Garavini (Università Roma Tre): The Venezuelan Project of a Global ‘Portioning’ Agency: the Creation of OPEC
Jonas Kreienbaum (Universität Rostock): From Cooperation to Friction. OPEC-NOPEC relations in the 1970s
Chair: Rüdiger Graf (ZZF Potsdam)

Friday, June 11
13.30 – 14.30 Coping with Assumed Energy Scarcities in the Long 1970s
Cyrus Mody (Maastricht University): Complementary Scarcities, Complementary Transitions: Oil, Food, and International Development in the Long 1970s
Henning Türk (ZZF Potsdam): The International Energy Agency between North-South-Conflict and Cold War, 1974–1984
Chair: Petra Dolata (Calgary)

15.00 – 16.00 A Post-Carbon Age I: Atomic Energy Cooperation
Elisabeth Röhrlich (Universität Wien): An Indispensable Source of Energy? The IAEA, Industrial Development, and the Myth of Apolitical Technology, 1970-1986
Lukas Schemper (Rachel Carson Center, München): IAEA in the Age of the “Risk Society Paradigm”: Strategies, Policies and Discourse
Chair: Jan-Henrik Meyer (ZZF Potsdam)

16.30 – 17.30: A Post Carbon Age II: Europe and Renewables
Eva Oberloskamp (Institut für Zeitgeschichte, München): The Impact of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development on British and German Energy Policies
Stephen Gross (New York University): The Paradoxes of Concentration and Competition: European Electricity Market Liberalization in the 1990s
Chair: Duccio Basosi (Universita Ca’ Foscari, Venezia)

17.30 – 18.30: Concluding Comments and Discussion
Frank Bösch (ZZF Potsdam) and Frank Trentmann (Birkbeck College, London)

Papers will be pre-circulated.

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