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Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR experts examine the science and foreign policy surrounding climate change, energy, and nuclear security.

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Is China’s Resource Strategy Changing Radically?

by Michael Levi
Courtesy REUTERS/China Daily Information Corp Courtesy REUTERS/China Daily Information Corp

“China’s leading think tank has outlined a revamped energy strategy,” Xinhua reports today, highlighting a long article published yesterday in People’s Daily. This comes on the heels of a wonderfully titled FT article – “China scythes grain self-sufficiency policy” – claiming that China has given up on its long-standing goal of producing its own food. Chinese resource strategy, it seems, is changing rapidly and radically. Read more »

The End of Energy as We Know It… In Three Graphs

by Blake Clayton

Want to understand the energy challenges the world might face in the future? There are few better places to turn than this year’s BP Energy Outlook to 2030, an annual publication that shows the company’s projections for energy supply and demand over the next two decades. The three graphs below highlight some of the trends likely to define the energy landscape in the years ahead, in BP’s view. Read more »

Five Critical Questions About the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

by Blake Clayton

Constant chatter about an impending oil release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was a prominent feature of the oil market last year. Much of the speculation was driven by the ongoing loss of crude from Iran, due to sanctions, and the possibility of a confrontation with Tehran over its nuclear program, which could have cut off traffic through the vital Strait of Hormuz. Read more »

The Real Reason Energy Traders Are Losing Sleep

by Blake Clayton

What’s roiling the oil market right now? The old familiar source of instability—unrest in the Middle East—is far from the whole story, though it still tends to be the first place Western pundits look when the world’s most important commodity is in turmoil. But this paradigmatic hangover from the 1970s has become less and less adequate. Read more »

Truth and Nonsense on Chinese Clean Energy

by Michael Levi

There is a serious fact-based case to be made for why China is not crushing the United States in a clean energy race. Unfortunately, Bjorn Lomborg’s op-ed in today’s Washington Post makes the argument using a mix of truth and nonsense. This won’t do much but perpetuate an ongoing battle of misleading statistics and dubious interpretations. Read more »

Beware the Strategic Consequences of Slashing International Climate Assistance

by Michael Levi

The Obama administration budget request for FY2012 is out. The contrast with the House Republican alternative is stark. Nowhere is this more clear than in funding for international climate change activities, where the administration has scaled back its request modestly from its FY2011 submission (but is still asking for considerably more than was appropriated for FY2010), while the House Republican proposal envisions eliminating almost all U.S. spending. Read more »

Misunderstanding High-Tech Trade

by Michael Levi

While the climate talks continue in Cancun, the most important developments in climate policy are still happening at the national level.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave a speech on Monday arguing that the United States is at risk of losing to China in a clean energy race. The most striking graph — and Chu emphasized it in his presentation — came near the start of his talk: Read more »

The Chinese Energy Intensity Circus

by Michael Levi

China has been much praised for its target of cutting energy intensity by twenty percent from 2005 to 2010. Indeed many of the measures it’s using to back that target up are impressive. If we’re being honest with ourselves, though, we need to admit that we have no clue whether the target is being met. Worse, we need to acknowledge that some of the steps being taken to meet it are downright counterproductive. Read more »