CFR Presents

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

CAFE Standards Protect Innovation From Low Oil Prices

by Varun Sivaram Thursday, November 5, 2015
The Tesla Model S is presented during the media day at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, September 15, 2015. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach) The Tesla Model S is presented during the media day at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, September 15, 2015. (Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

 

Should the government require automakers to improve the fuel economy of new vehicles each year? If so, at what pace should such improvements proceed? Responding to those questions, this week Michael Levi and I released a peer-reviewed discussion paper urging the next administration to maintain President Obama’s planned Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. We argue: Read more »

China Recalculates its Coal Consumption: Why This Really Matters

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi Thursday, November 5, 2015
china coal climate pollution paris A laborer works at a coking plant in Changzhi, in north China's Shanxi province, July 7, 2007. (Stringer/Reuters)

This was originally posted by my colleague and co-author Elizabeth Economy on CFR’s Asia Unbound blog. Liz is the C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia studies at CFR. Read more »

Why University Research Is More Important Than Ever

by Varun Sivaram Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Stanford University, California (Wikimedia Commons) Stanford University, California (Wikimedia Commons)

A dangerous ideological current is coursing through the intellectual circuit, a political conviction dressed up as an empirical theory. Its proponents argue that public funding of basic scientific research is, at best, a waste of money and, at worst, an actively counterproductive endeavor that crowds out the private sector’s innovative instincts. And the institutions in the crosshairs of these broadsides are U.S. research universities, the country’s most valuable assets in a global economy driven by innovation. Read more »

Big Oil Price Moves Reveal Less Than You May Think

by Michael Levi Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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 »

Guest Post: Financing to Protect Forests: Will Carbon Markets Deliver?

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi Monday, October 12, 2015
deforestation climate REDD+ forests REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Carbon markets, once touted as a golden ticket for funding efforts to reduce deforestation, have yet to deliver on their promise. In this guest post, Brian Murray, research professor of environmental economics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, explains why and proposes alternative financing options. For more on global efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, see the report from CFR’s recent workshop on the subject, at which Dr. Murray was a speaker. Read more »

What Big Data Can Tell Us About the Oil Price Crash

by Michael Levi Thursday, October 8, 2015
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 Tuesday, September 29, 2015
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 »

Now What’s That Got to Do with the Price of Oil?

by Varun Sivaram Tuesday, September 8, 2015
The 300MW Stateline wind farm, owned by Nextera Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP), a renewable energy Yieldco (Nextera Energy) The 300MW Stateline wind farm, owned by Nextera Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP), a renewable energy Yieldco (Nextera Energy)

This post was co-written with Peyton Kliefoth, an economics major at Northwestern University and research intern at the Council.

Over the weekend, I published a piece in Fortune Magazine explaining a surprising correlation between falling oil prices and tumbling shares of Yieldcos, which are publicly traded holding companies mostly comprising renewable energy assets in the U.S. and Europe (see chart below). Read more »

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

by Michael Levi Thursday, August 6, 2015
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 »