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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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Showing posts for "politics"

WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Policies Previews Clashes Between Trade and Climate Agendas

by Varun Sivaram
Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic solar panel at the Gujarat solar park under construction in the Indian state of Gujarat (Reuters/Amit Dave). Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic solar panel at the Gujarat solar park under construction in the Indian state of Gujarat (Reuters/Amit Dave).

This week, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel decided in favor of the United States and against India in a dispute over Indian domestic content requirements for sourcing solar power. Reading the headlines, one might worry that “The WTO Just Ruled Against India’s Booming Solar Program” or, worse, that the “WTO swats down India’s massive solar initiative.” Read more »

The Supreme Court Just Clarified Rules for Modern Power Regulation…Or Did It?

by Varun Sivaram
The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court (Reuters/Gary Cameron) The U.S. Supreme Court (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government is empowered to regulate wholesale demand response, or targeted reductions in electricity use by consumers in response to peak demand. The ruling, in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) v. Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), has been hailed by a broad coalition comprising environmental activists, regulators, and companies, because demand response can reduce rates and ease strain on the grid. Read more »

Oil Exports Budget Deal? Market, Climate, and Geopolitical Consequences

by Michael Levi
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

News outlets are reporting that a congressional budget deal could end the oil export ban in exchange for extension of the Investment and Production Tax Credits (ITC and PTC) that support solar and wind energy. Here I want to lay out what ending the oil export ban could mean for markets, climate, and geopolitics. (I suspect Varun may weigh in later on the ITC/PTC extensions if and when details emerge.) Short version: Little immediate impact on anything; a possible boost on the order of a few hundred thousand barrels a day to U.S. oil production over the longer run; a factor of perhaps fifty smaller impact on carbon dioxide emissions than the Clean Power Plan and CAFE (fuel economy standards); and a mixed bag for geopolitics and trade talks. Read more »

One More Reason to Raise the Gas Tax Now

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

Three months ago gas taxes were untouchable. Now, with oil prices down, they’re having a moment. Public voices from Larry Summers to Charles Krauthammer are calling for hikes. (Summers argues for a carbon tax; Krauthammer says the tax should be raised “a lot”.) More important, serious lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have gotten in on the game. The general thrust of the arguments on offer is that with oil prices falling, it’s now possible to raise the gas tax and still leave consumers better off than they were half a year ago. That right, but I think there’s an even stronger argument to be made. Read more »

Keystone, Science, and Politics

by Michael Levi

Jeff Tollefson has an excellent new piece in Nature exploring the debate within the scientific community over Keystone XL. It makes two things pretty clear. As a matter of substance, there’s pretty much no one beyond Jim Hansen willing to come close to endorsing the “game over” claim. Yet there’s still a ton division among scientists – it’s over political tactics instead. Ken Caldeira captures the situation well: “I don’t believe that whether the pipeline is built or not will have any detectable climate effect,” he tells Nature. Nonetheless, here’s his bottom line: “The Obama administration needs to signal whether we are going to move toward zero-emission energy systems or whether we are going to move forward with last century’s energy system”. That sort of sentiment is political– and there’s nothing wrong with it – but, as the Nature article nicely shows, it’s distinct from any scientific debate. Read more »

How David Stockman Explains Irrational Hatred of Clean Energy Spending

by Michael Levi

Skeptics of government spending on clean energy have reasonable grounds to question whether Washington is capable of effectively investing in efforts to commercialize new technologies. The last few weeks, though, have reinforced a far deeper and more problematic hostility toward government spending on clean energy innovation that makes pragmatic compromise all but impossible. Read more »

State of the Union Hints at Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Old and New Energy

by Michael Levi

The State of the Union address last night was notable for the prominent placement of energy and climate and for its recommencement to what President Obama has called an all of the above strategy. I was particularly struck by the inclusion of two new efforts that would aim to concretely bridge the gap between fossil fuel backers and clean energy enthusiasts: the Energy Security Trust Fund and a new prize for development of natural gas with carbon capture and storage. Read more »

Chavez’s Troubled Legacy for Venezuela’s Oil Industry

by Blake Clayton

The failure of ailing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to return from Cuba, where he is recovering from another round of surgery, to Caracas for his inauguration underscores the uncertainty of the South American country’s future as a critical oil supplier. Chavez, first elected in 1998 and inaugurated in 1999, rode ultra-low oil prices to power, promising a tougher stance against the majors and a more hawkish voice within OPEC. So how’s the country’s oil industry faring today versus when he entered office? Read more »

Two Paths Forward on Climate Change

by Michael Levi

The past week has been huge for people who want to see the United States go big on climate change. First Hurricane Sandy vaulted climate change back into the public debate. Now the reelection of Barack Obama means that there will be someone in the White House who cares strongly about the issue. The combination creates an opportunity to press for climate action. Read more »

Five Reasons to Talk Energy and Climate at the Foreign Policy Debate

by Michael Levi

The moderator of tonight’s foreign policy debate has released a list of the topics he will focus on, and neither energy nor climate are there. This has, not surprisingly, not gone unnoticed. Indeed one need look no further than Hilary Clinton’s sweeping speech last Thursday on “Energy Diplomacy in the 21st Century” to confirm that energy and foreign policy are deeply intertwined. Here are five reasons that energy and climate should be part of tonight’s debate: Read more »