Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

The Other 1.6 Billion

by Michael Levi Friday, April 30, 2010

As (some) Americans focus their attention on addressing climate change and energy security, it’s easy to forget that a quarter of the world (about 1.6 billion people) have absolutely no access to electricity. That situation undermines pretty much every aspect of development, from health to education to personal safety. A new UN report (PDF), released today (on what organizers have called “Energy for Development Day“), admirably draws attention to the issue, and to some options for addressing it. (For a non-PDF news account, take a look here.) Read more »

Will a Climate Bill Cost Iran $100 Million a Day?

by Michael Levi Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A big new talking point has emerged in the battle for a climate bill. Reuters reports:

“[Senator John] Kerry also has been casting the climate debate in national security tones. He joined veterans of the Iraq war to unveil a clock that counted U.S. revenues Iran would be deprived of as the United States lowers carbon emissions by burning less imported oil. The clock, adorned with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s picture, is measuring $100 million a day in potential lost revenues to Iran….” Read more »

Carbon Pricing or R&D? A New Economics Paper Says Both

by Michael Levi Saturday, April 24, 2010

Daron Acemoglu, Philippe Aghion, and two of their colleagues (MIT and Harvard) posted a fascinating working paper last October that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves in the policy world. (After I wrote this, I spotted a blog post on it over at the World Bank, which apparently hosted one of its authors for a talk last month.) It’s a fairly technical piece of economics (though the summary is nice and clear), so I’ll try to explain a bit about what it says. Read more »

In Memoriam: The “Linked Fee”

by Michael Levi Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh, “linked fee”, we hardly knew you. For the last few months, conventional wisdom held that the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham climate bill, due out next Monday, would tackle emissions from transportation in a novel way. The bill was reported to leave transportation outside its emissions cap, and levy a fee on refined oil products (gasoline, petroleum, jet fuel) instead. That fee (call it a tax if you must) would have been indexed to the price of permits that power plants would have had to purchase under the cap. During its brief life, there was basically no serious public analysis of the fee’s wisdom. Now all signs say that it’s dead. Read more »