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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Clean Energy"

The Clean Energy Ministerial: What I Learned about Solar PV and Global Governance

by Michael Levi

On April 25 and 26, I had the good fortune to participate in parts of the third annual Clean Energy Ministerial (known informally as the CEM), a forum launched by U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu in 2010. The initiative brings together energy ministers from most G20 countries, along with a handful of others, to learn lessons from each others’ clean energy efforts, and, critically, to identify places where intergovernmental initiatives could boost the odds of success. One thing that distinguishes the forum from other international initiatives is the integral role that the private sector has played from day one. The first afternoon of the CEM was spent in a series of small public-private dialogues that brought together ministers, regulators, operators, investors, and experts in science and technology to discuss areas ranging from smart financing tools to support energy efficiency investment to integration of variable renewable sources in the grid. Read more »

Why Do Green Jobs Pay Better Than Other Jobs?

by Michael Levi

I’ve always been skeptical of the oft-heard claim that “green jobs” are “good jobs” – that is, that green jobs somehow pay better than other ones. A recent Brookings Institution study, though, takes a rather thorough look at the “clean economy”, and concludes quite emphatically that green jobs do in fact pay better than the typical U.S. job. That invites an obvious question: Why? Read more »

Another Way to Think About Alternative Fuels

by Michael Levi

Some people assess the relative attractiveness of alternative transportation fuels by comparing their greenhouse gas emissions to those associated with oil. Others compare different fuels based mainly on price: cheaper fuels, in this view, are invariably the most desireable ones. A third crowd, meanwhile, focuses first on whether any particular fuel can be produced at home rather than abroad. Each of these lenses leads to different conclusions: corn ethanol, for example, scores poorly on the first measure, moderately on the second, and well on the third. 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 »

Is It Possible to “Win” The Clean Energy Future?

by Michael Levi

I am not a huge fan of the Sputnik Moment / Win the Future / Sky Is Falling rhetoric that President Obama invoked in his State of the Union and that his team have been using to sell their clean energy strategy. But I’m also growing weary of reading contrary economic analyses that seem to believe that economic policy is all about win-wins and kumbaya. Read more »

An Important Report on Energy RD&D

by Michael Levi

Now that Cancun is done, it’s time to start thinking hard again about the nitty-gritty of low-carbon development. Harvard’s Energy Technology Innovation Program (ETIP) has a big new report (along with a shorter policy brief) on government investment in energy RD&D in what they call “the BRIMCS”: Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China, and South Africa. The report’s headline is that government investment is greater in the BRIMCS than in the OECD. My preliminary read of the report is that the most interesting stuff is elsewhere. 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 »