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Energy, Security, and Climate

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Showing posts for "Diplomacy"

Two Cheers for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

by Michael Levi
Paris; climate; UN; COP21 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

LE BOURGET, FRANCE – The Paris climate summit (also known as COP 21) has adopted a new “Paris Agreement”. The agreement has the potential to mark a laudable and historic shift in how the world negotiates cooperation on climate change. It does not justify the over-the-top claims that some are making – that it spells the end of fossil fuels or assures that temperatures will rise no more than two degrees – but those who negotiated it never believed it could. Nor does it deserve to be pilloried (a rarer but still real reaction) for failing to save the planet – an entirely unreasonable expectation. Instead it begins to set up a framework for transparency and review of countries’ nationally driven emissions-cutting efforts and a process for encouraging stronger efforts over time. In doing so it meets the modest but important goals that were sensibly set for the negotiations. Only time will tell, though, whether the full promise of the Paris Agreement is achieved. Read more »

Molina and Zaelke: Cutting Short-Lived Pollutants Can Give Quick Wins on Warming

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
climate change; emissions; pollution; Paris REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Policymakers should look to reductions in potent, short-lived pollutants to reduce warming faster than cuts to carbon dioxide emissions alone, write Nobel Prize-winner Mario Molina and Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development founder Durwood Zaelke in this guest post. This piece is part of our ongoing guest blog series surrounding the Paris climate talks, which has included posts on China’s political rhetoric, international climate institutions beyond the UN talks, and the links between climate and conflict in northern Nigeria. Read more »

Stewart Patrick: Combating Climate Change Beyond Paris

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The UN climate talks in Paris are just one part of the international climate policy regime, write Stewart Patrick, director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, and Research Associate Naomi Egel. In this post, part of our ongoing guest series on the Paris summit, they note other institutions contributing to the climate policy process and highlight several climate policy options from CFR’s Global Governance Monitor. Read more »

Yanzhong Huang: China’s New Rhetoric at COP21

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
China; Climate Change; COP21 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

China’s public rhetoric about international climate policy has changed dramatically since the 2009 UN summit in Copenhagen, write Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for Global Health, and Research Associate Ariella Rotenberg. In this piece, part of our series of guest posts on the UN climate summit in Paris, they explain why that is and what it might mean for the ongoing UN summit in Paris. Read more »

TPP: A Small Step in the Right Direction on Climate

by Varun Sivaram
President Barack Obama attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at the ASEAN Summit at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 20, 2012. (White House Photo/Pete Souza) President Barack Obama attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at the ASEAN Summit at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 20, 2012. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

Yesterday, after five years of negotiations, the Obama administration released the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement between the United States and eleven other countries. Ahead of the text’s unveiling, environmental groups had already voiced their displeasure at what they expected to see—indeed, the Sierra Club warned that “TPP would impose additional limits on the ability of governments to tackle climate change”. Read more »

A Faustian Bargain for Ukraine?

by Michael Levi

Earlier today Russia intervened dramatically in Ukraine’s political turmoil with an offer to sell the cash-strapped country deeply discounted natural gas. The New York Times captured the prevailing wisdom when it wrote that it was unclear what “Russia might receive in return for its assistance”. Here’s an answer: Russia will receive immense leverage over Ukraine. Indeed history suggests that cheap energy is much more effective than expensive energy as a true source of geopolitical leverage. Read more »

How the Copenhagen Climate Talks Succeeded

by Michael Levi

Negotiators are gathering in Warsaw this week and next for the nineteenth annual UN climate talks (COP19). Their job will be to prepare the groundwork for a big summit in Paris in 2015 where countries are supposed to ink a new climate agreement. Many diplomats and observers are likely to warn against repeating what they see as the disastrous 2009 Copenhagen summit. That meeting merely produced a voluntary pact, but only legally binding commitments, many will insist, can do the job. Read more »

Another Reason that Changing Course on the Climate Diplomacy is so Hard

by Michael Levi

Difficulties in the UN climate talks in recent years have prompted calls for shifting negotiations to a smaller and more nimble group. The argument for doing this (and I’ve made it myself) often turns to an analogy with the GATT. That foundational trade agreement, people point out, didn’t start with every country on earth. Instead it began with a small group, figured out how to make that relatively tractable arrangement work, and then built on success. Climate negotiators should do the same. Read more »

A Sticking Point for Climate Diplomacy

by Michael Levi

President Obama’s big climate change speech in late June has spurred a lot of optimistic talk about the possibility of concluding an international deal in 2015, the deadline set last year for a new climate agreement. By pursuing new regulations under existing authority, the United States could deliver on its Copenhagen promise of cutting its emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, presumably strengthening its bargaining hand. The draft 2014 U.S. Climate Change Report, released late last month, admirably reinforces the message, modeling a range of plausible policy shifts that could deliver on the 2020 goal. Read more »

Should You Pay Attention to the UN Climate Talks?

by Michael Levi

The annual United Nations (UN) climate talks are rarely a pretty sight. The typical script is fairly reliable. Negotiators typically arrive at each summit with mostly realistic goals. But diplomats and those who seek to influence them spend the first week or so ratcheting up demands and accusations, in part for leverage, but at least as much in order to make themselves look good and their adversaries appear villainous. Members of the media (if they’re paying attention) report that the talks appear set for disaster. Meanwhile, away from the spotlight, negotiators quietly hash through the substantive tasks at hand. Eventually, in the middle of the second week, higher level officials arrive. Occasionally, important differences prove impractical to resolve, and the summit collapses. Far more often, the parties cobble something modest together, apparently snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Read more »