CCGL9040 Global Issues

Energy Futures, Globalization and Sustainability

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

The course explores the relationships between energy, globalization and sustainability at the global, regional and local levels. Examining how the globalization process affects energy supply and use, and how energy systems affect economies, societies and our environment, the course discusses different energy resources such as fossil fuels, nuclear power, renewable energy, and how these are managed within processes of globalization. The course explains some of the key sustainability challenges confronting contemporary societies, such as climate change, and how these are being tackled.  Examples from developing and developed countries in Asia and elsewhere are used to illustrate how the processes of globalization, energy governance and system development and sustainability interact, the problems that arise, and how countries develop strategies and policies to manage these problems.

[A compulsory field trip will take place during Reading Week.  The field trip will last for 5 to 6 hours.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain and debate the principles of globalization and sustainable development as these apply at the global, regional and local levels.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness of the importance of energy systems as a key determinant of societal sustainability, globally and locally.
  3. Appreciate the inter-connectedness between sustainable development, aspects of energy production and consumption, and the globalization process.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of key environmental impacts of contemporary energy systems and the potential contribution of technological developments in energy supply systems and their costs and benefits and role in green development.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of basic components of the skill sets required to analyze energy and sustainability issues.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Fieldwork / Visits 6
Reading / Self-study 60
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 25
Assessment: Group project presentation (incl preparation) 15
Total: 138

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Video production 35
Term paper 35
In-class test 20
Tutorial participation 10

Required Reading

  • Goldthau, A., & Witte, J. M. (Eds.). (2010). Global energy governance: The new rules of the game. Berlin: Brookings Institution Press.
  • International Energy Agency. (2016). World energy outlook 2016. Paris: International Energy Agency/OECD.
  • Toossi, R. (2009). Energy and the environment: Sources, technologies, and impacts (2nd ed.). Irvine, CA: VerVe Publishers.
  • World Energy Council. (2010). Pursuing sustainability: 2010 assessment of country energy and climate policy. London: World Energy Council.

Recommended Reading

  • Harris, J. M. (2013). Population, resources and energy in the global economy: A vindication of Herman Daly’s vision. Working Paper No. 13-03 (February). Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University. From http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/pubs/wp/13-03harrisdaly.pdf
  • Heinberg, R. (2009). Searching for a miracle: “Net energy” limits and the fate of industrial society. A joint project of the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute. San Francisco: The International Forum on Globalization.
  • Hoekstra, A. Y., & Wiedmann, T. O., (2014). Humanity’s unsustainable environmental footprint. Science344(6188), 1114-1117.
  • Mah, D. N. Y., van der Vleuten, J. M., Hills, P., & Tao, J. (2012). Consumer perceptions of smart grid development: Results of a Hong Kong survey and policy implications. Energy Policy49, 204-216.
  • Spalding-Fecher, R., Winkler, H. & Mwakasonda, S. (2005). Energy and the world summit on sustainable development: What next? Energy Policy, 33, 99-112.
  • United Nations Development Programme. (2008). Financing options for renewable energy: Country experiences. Bangkok: United Nations Development Programme.
  • Vera, I., & Langlois, L. (2007). Energy indicators for sustainable development. Energy32(6), 875-882.
  • World Energy Council. (2013). World energy resources: 2013 Survey. World Energy Council, London. From http://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Complete_WER_2013_Survey.pdf
  • Zhang, N., Lior, N., & Jin, H. (2011). The energy situation and its sustainable development strategy in China. Energy, 36(6), 3639-3649.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr W.W.Y. Law
Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 7392
Email: wwylaw@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr W.W.Y. Law
Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 7392
Email: wwylaw@hku.hk
Dr J.E. Kim
Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4982
Email: jkim@hku.hk