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Energy, Security, and Climate

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What the Big U.S.-China Climate Announcement Means

by Michael Levi
REUTERS/Carlos Barria REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping surprised even the closest climate watchers last night when they jointly announced new emissions-cutting goals for the United States and China. This is a serious diplomatic breakthrough after years of unsuccessful efforts to do something big and joint that goes beyond clean energy cooperation and gets to one of the most sensitive parts of climate policy. What it ultimately means for emissions, of course, will be determined over many years. Read more »

Booming Coal Use Isn’t Just About China – It’s Increasingly About India Too

by Michael Levi
Reuters/Hannibal Reuters/Hannibal

Coal has been the world’s fastest growing energy source for a decade. That’s largely been driven by China. Increasingly, though, it’s about India too, which has important climate implications.

The chart below shows annual changes in global oil, gas, and coal consumption. (The figure for a given year is the change from the previous year; all numbers in this post are based on the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014.) Between 1988 and 2002 coal led the pack only once. But between 2003 and 2013, coal led in every year but 2008. Read more »

The Total Cost of Climate Policy Isn’t What Matters Most

by Michael Levi
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reuters/Lee Jae Won

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is out with its synthesis report and the coverage, beyond warning of the consequences from unfettered emissions, has emphasized that tackling the problem would shave only 0.06 percentage points off annual global growth. That’s almost certainly wrong – realistic models would predict higher figures – but, when it comes to the cost of climate policy, not what really matters. Read more »

New Nobel Economics Winner Jean Tirole on Energy, Climate, and Environment

by Michael Levi
noble economics jean tirole energy environment climate REUTERS/Fred Lancelot

Jean Tirole was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences today “for his analysis of market power and regulation”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that he’s written a lot about energy, climate change, and environmental issues. Here’s a quick selection of his relevant papers. Read more »

Which U.S. States Win and Lose Most From Falling Oil Prices?

by Michael Levi
Brent Crude Oil Price (Source: WSJ) Brent Crude Oil Price (Source: WSJ)

Oil prices are plunging. Which U.S. states will benefit most – and which are most at risk? A study that we published about a year ago looked at exactly this question. The research, by Mine Yucel of the Dallas Fed and Stephen Brown of UNLV, ranked Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Tennessee as the biggest potential winners, and Wyoming, Oklahoma, and North Dakota as those with the most to lose. Read more »

What My Book The Power Surge Got Wrong

by Michael Levi
The Power Surge by Michael Levi Paperback

It’s been two years since I turned in the manuscript for The Power Surge, my book about the changes sweeping American energy and their consequences for the world that was published last May. The book is out in paperback today, which strikes me as a great opportunity to take stock of what’s changed, both in the world and in my thinking about it. Here are five things I’d tackle differently if I could write the book again. Read more »

Climate Change: What Is China Doing and Not Doing?

by Michael Levi
zhang gaoli UN climate summit New York Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli speaks during the Climate Summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September 23, 2014. (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters)

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli made news on Tuesday with his speech on climate change at the United Nations. My colleague and co-author Elizabeth Economy has an enlightening post on her blog, Asia Unbound, drilling down on the headlines. I’ve reposted it here. Read more »

A Dispatch from the People’s Climate March

by Michael Levi
People's climate march New York city Climate Change summit My kind of protest sign.

The People’s Climate March, which drew a reported three hundred thousand people to the New York streets on Sunday, deserves much of the applause and attention it’s attracted. No one who attended the march can deny the enthusiasm of the crowd, or the fact that the gathering has helped keep climate change on the front page for a week.  And yet, throughout the day, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d stumbled into an anti-fracking march that also happened to be about climate change.  And I couldn’t escape the conclusion that this focus could end up undermining the very climate change goals that the march was ostensibly about achieving. Read more »

Is Solar Power Making Climate Policy Cheap?

by Michael Levi
Solar power plant clean energy REUTERS/Fabian Andres Cambero

For the second time this year, Paul Krugman has written a column explaining that serious studies consistently conclude that slashing global carbon dioxide emissions doesn’t need to be expensive. Also for the second time, he gives much of the credit to falling costs for renewable energy, particularly solar power. He’s absolutely correct on the broader point – but dead wrong in explaining why the studies come to that conclusion. Read more »