Energy Spheres of Influence

Studying energy's role in global competition for economic and geopolitical influence

The Issue

The most profound geopolitical challenge facing the United States is securing its interests in an emerging and still undefined new world order— to manage China’s rise, contain Russia’s assertiveness, and renew its bonds with allies old and new.

As the U.S. addresses this challenge, energy is both a target and tool. Much of the world’s energy development and trade occurs in the sphere of normal commerce, but energy infrastructure, investment, and control over resources also play a role in establishing or challenging relationships between and among countries.

The Project

This year-long project investigated (1) how energy plays a role in competition for influence among the United States, China, and Russia and (2) whether any one country or group of countries could exert influence over a specific type of energy or fuel.

The final goal: establish a new international energy policy for the next U.S. administration.

The Report: Race to the Top



U.S. foreign policy has always thought about energy and, more recently, climate. In January 2021, a new administration, and maybe a new president, will be sworn in and the continued search for an international energy and climate strategy will go through another iteration. Under the Energy Spheres of Influence project, CSIS Energy spent the last year thinking about what that strategy should be; this document summarizes our results.

Go to the Report


This project is made possible by the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.