Electrons, Rocks, and Brains

Canada’s Power in the New Geopolitical Order
February, 2024
By Bentley Allan, Derek Eaton, Jonas Goldman

Canada takes its position in the global geopolitical order for granted. But the global energy transition is transforming geopolitics and the foundations of national power. The old geopolitical order was based on oil. Canada prospered under this order, but there is a risk that it will lose its position in the new energy world. This brief presents findings from an original study of energy and other resources conducted by the Centre for Net-Zero Industrial Policy to show Canada’s potential in the new energy economy, and places Canada’s position in comparative perspective, assessing its potential geopolitical role.

About the Authors

Bentley Allan, PhD

Transition Pathway Principal

Bentley Allan, PhD, is a Transition Pathway Principal at the Transition Accelerator, as well as an Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Allan is an award-winning scholar who has written on the dynamics of international order, science and politics, climate policy, and the political economy of decarbonization. He provides regular advice to government and industry on geopolitics, industrial strategy, and policy.

He has co-lead the development of three sector strategies and roadmaps in collaboration with industry partners. He is the co-coordinator of the Centre for Net-Zero Industrial Policy which advances research and action to strengthen and mobilize Canada’s expertise in modern industrial policy, enabling strategic collaboration between government, industry, indigenous communities, labor, and financial institutions in pursuit of good jobs and a competitive economy.


Derek Eaton, PhD

Director of Future Economy

Director of Future Economy at the Transition Accelerator, Derek Eaton is an economist with more than 30 years of experience in developing policy insights and recommendations to integrate sustainability into decision-making. Derek’s global career has ranged across the energy, agriculture, food, water, trade, investment, finance and innovation sectors. His professional focus has centered on understanding how economic change and transformation takes place. He brings valuable insights from his experience working for the UN, government, research organizations, universities, think tanks and consulting spanning the research, policy and practice interface.

Prior to joining the Transition Accelerator, Derek was Senior Director of Public Policy Research at the Smart Prosperity Institute. Some of his previous positions include Principal Consultant, Technopolis Group (the Netherlands); VP Research, the Global Footprint Network (Oakland, CA and Switzerland); Executive Director, Centre for International Environmental Studies, Graduate Institute (Geneva), Green Economy Research Lead, United Nations Environment Programme (Geneva). Derek holds a PhD in Economics from Wageningen University, Netherlands.


Jonas Goldman

Senior Research Associate

Jonas Goldman is a senior research associate at the Johns Hopkins Net-Zero Industrial Policy Lab. His past research has focused on low-carbon industrial strategy and infrastructure solutions at the level of the community, region, and country. He also has published on potential inter-governmental responses to climate change such as the development of environmental work relief programs for at risk populations by the EU, and the pivoting of the NATO alliance to address the security risks caused by climate change.

He has worked in a variety of policy positions for government, NGOs, and in the Canadian Parliament.


Allan B., Eaton D., Goldman J. (2024). Electrons, Rocks, and Brains: Canada’s power in the new geopolitical order. Centre for Net-Zero Industrial Policy, Transition Accelerator. Version 1.0