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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Michael Levi"

Big Oil Price Moves Reveal Less Than You May Think

by Michael Levi

What do the remarkable swings in oil prices over recent months tell us about the state of the oil production, consumption, and the global economy? One would think a lot: rising prices signal weakening production, growing demand from consumers, and a relatively healthy global economy; falling prices reveal robust output, slow consumer demand growth, and, more broadly, a faltering global economy. Take the August oil price collapse: many observers of the world economy took it as a sign that the Chinese economy was stumbling. The remarkable behavior of oil inventories, though, suggests that recent price moves tell us much more about market sentiment and beliefs about the future, and considerably less about fundamentals, than one might imagine. Read more »

What Big Data Can Tell Us About the Oil Price Crash

by Michael Levi
Gasoline price gas tax 2015 REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The oil price collapse was supposed to boost the U.S. economy by prompting consumers to spend their savings on other goods and services. During the first half of this year, though, data seemed to suggest that they were saving the windfall instead, damaging economic growth. But new big data research from the newish JP Morgan Chase Institute appears to provide strong evidence that consumers did, indeed, spend most of their savings. It’s an intriguing energy result that also offers a glimpse into how changes in data availability and computational capacity are changing the sort of energy research that’s possible. Read more »

Can Deforestation be Stopped?

by Michael Levi
Figure-1_web

Why has Brazil slashed deforestation over the last decade while Indonesian deforestation has accelerated? The two countries lead the world in deforestation, which, after energy use, is the top source of greenhouse gas emissions. In the last week, each country has released an emissions-cutting plan in anticipation of the Paris climate summit that relies heavily on avoiding deforestation. Figuring out why Brazil has succeeded while Indonesia has lagged can provide insight into how both countries can do more. Read more »

Guest Post: Cleaning Up the Mess at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation

by Michael Levi
Nigeria oil NPPC Buhari Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This was originally posted by my colleague John Campbell on his Africa in Transition blog. John was formerly U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and is currently the Ralph Bunche senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Five Takeaways on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

by Michael Levi
Solar_panels,-nellis-afb

The final version of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (his carbon dioxide regulations for new and existing power plants) will be released later today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many details are already online. The new rules are an important step forward but certainly not without their flaws. Here are five important things, good and bad, that today’s dueling press releases might not tell you. Read more »

New Article: How Asia is Shaping the Future of Energy

by Michael Levi
Chinese woman struggles with air pollution A woman wearing a mask rides her bicycle along a street on a hazy morning in Beijing, February 28, 2013. REUTERS/China Daily

What caused the big oil crash of 2014? If you said the U.S. oil boom or Saudi strategy, you’re only partly right. As I argue in a new essay in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, if you want to understand current energy developments and future prospects – whether you’re talking about oil or gas or coal or renewables, and about economics or security or environment – you need to pay attention to Asia. Read more »

What Matters (And What Doesn’t) in the G7 Climate Declaration

by Michael Levi
Group of 7 climate emissions pledge G7 Reuters/Michael Kappeler

The G7 leaders concluded their annual summit yesterday with a declaration that put climate change front and center. As with all G7 communiqués, most of the content reaffirms steps that the leaders have already promised to take and, in many cases, are already taking. But, as usual, there are some interesting wrinkles. I’m struck in particular the parts that seem to be the most important are different from those that have generated the most headlines. Here are a couple highlights in each category. Read more »

A Clean Energy Revolution is Tougher than You Think

by Michael Levi
Flickr(CC)/Hiroo Yamagata Flickr(CC)/Hiroo Yamagata

Had you asked most analysts a year ago what it would take to decarbonize the transportation system without aggressive new policy you’d have got an answer something like this: You need low-carbon technologies that can beat $100 oil on its own terms. And if you ask the same question today about electric power, you’ll usually hear that zero-carbon technologies need to come in at costs under the ever-rising cost of grid-distributed, fossil fuel generated electricity, a rather fat (and growing) target. Read more »

The Environmental and Climate Stakes in Arctic Oil Drilling

by Michael Levi
Oil Drilling Arctic Environment Climate

On Monday, the Obama administration gave Shell conditional permission to move forward with Arctic oil drilling. The New York Times captures a common sentiment well in identifying this as a “tricky intersection of Obama’s energy and climate legacies”. The reality, though, is that this intersection isn’t nearly a fraught as many assume: decisions about offshore drilling in Alaska are indeed difficult, given the local economic and environmental stakes involved, but climate isn’t a central factor. Read more »