fueling the future 2014


Interested in energy conflict? Oil politics? Sustainable development? Join the International Relations Society at the University of Toronto, for our 2014 Annual Conference, as we deconstruct the role of energy in contemporary International Relations.

Please register for the conference here. And be sure to check out the Facebook event and read about our speakers before January 25!


FREE for everyone (University of Toronto students, faculty/alumni, and the general community).


10:00 AM – 11:00 PM Registration

Please drop by whenever it is convenient. Doors open for academic conference at 11:00AM.

11:00 AM – 11:15 AM Opening Remarks

David Cosolo, Fern Ramoutar–Co-Presidents, International Relations Society
Scott Walker–Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General Toronto
Professor Mairi MacDonald–Program Director, International Relations Program

11:15AM – 12:00 PM Keynote Address; Q&A

Graham Campbell–President, Energy Council of Canada

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM Global Energy Markets: (How) Do They Work?

Production and trade in physical commodities and energy sources is equally fundamental to a country’s domestic development agenda and its foreign relations. From 1973, to 1990 and beyond, volatility across international energy markets has historically demonstrated the severe vulnerability built into market structures and competition. Processes of institution-building, liberalization and collusion have all emerged as collaborative state strategies to encourage stability and generate massive opportunities for growth and profit. This panel will examine the historical trajectories of commodity and energy markets in a financial framework. Questions regarding what conditions produce structural failure, the politics and externalities of pricing schemes, and innovative design in areas such as renewable energy, will provide an important conceptual foundation for considering the intersection of geopolitical and financial energy collaboration.

Robert Orttung–George Washington University
Alison Scott–National Energy Board
Richard Carlson–Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM Lunch Break

Lunch will be provided in adjacent CCF Lounge

2:15 PM – 3:30 PM Energy Geopolitics: Conflict, Power, and Sovereignty

The basic truth that some states have resources and others do not naturally results in a power imbalance in the international system. This panel will look at how these power imbalances manifest themselves today in both domestic and global contexts. Do petro-states have greater power in international institutions and bodies? What will be the impact of the rise of “progressive” Middle Eastern nations such as Qatar and the UAE? We will also analyze the issue of sovereignty in regards to state-owned energy companies, such as Petronas or CNOOC, and the implications of takeovers and foreign direct investment in other states. With resource extraction impacting every corner of the globe, there is no doubt that conflict and tension will arise, particularly if renewables become economically viable. Going beyond rhetoric to understand certain motives and decisions is necessary in the face of higher dependence on nonrenewable resources.

Meredith Kravitz–University of Toronto
Jon Rozhon–Canadian Energy Research Institute
Yadullah Hussain–National Post

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Coffee Break

Coffee will be provided in adjacent CCF Lounge

4:00 PM – 5:15 PM Energy Cooperation–A Regional Case Study: North American Energy Independence

As an inherently “cross-border” concern, energy and resource issues will affect people, corporations, ecosystems, and politicians across man-made borders. The Canada-U.S. energy relationship, though not a perfect picture, provides a case study in how two countries can cooperate to provide solutions to these concerns. How will “North American Energy Independence” change our respective foreign policies? How will this change how we act as a continent? How is it affecting our relations now, with respects to KXL and other infrastructure projects? This regional case study will analyze the manufacturing of consent in North America – how firms are acquiring the “social license to operate” – the domestic challenges of extraction presented by environmental lobbyists and native groups, and, finally, how non-state actors are able to facilitate cross-border dialogue. Is the common thread of energy independence adequate to ensure cooperation across the continent? Or does the lure of resource nationalism threaten to tear it all apart?

Len Coad–Centre for Natural Resources Policy, Canada West Foundation
Andrew Place–Centre for Sustainable Shale Development
Shawn McCarthy–The Globe and Mail

5:15 PM – 5:30 PM Closing Remarks