Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Hard Times Ahead for US Climate Diplomacy

by Michael Levi Friday, July 23, 2010

I have a short piece up at on the international implications of the climate bill collapse. Here’s the conclusion:

“The United States spent the better part of the last decade being pilloried for its lack of action on climate. The last year and a half has seen a new attitude from much of the rest of the world. International observers have watched the U.S. political debate with growing skepticism over whether Washington could ever deliver cap-and-trade, but they have still held out hope. The sharp setback to the Senate’s cap-and-trade efforts on July 22 means that the honeymoon for U.S. climate diplomacy is over.” Read more »

New Maneuvers in the Climate Talks

by Michael Levi Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Times of India reports this morning that the next climate strategy meeting of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, and China) will include “participation from smaller countries such as Yemen, Rwanda, and Venezuela”. Those might seem like marginal players at first glance, but they could play decisive roles at the climate talks in Cancun later this year. The United States and its partners should beware. Read more »

A Low Carbon Fuel Standard Could Be Ugly

by Michael Levi Tuesday, July 20, 2010

E&E News reports this morning that senators are considering including a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in the impending energy bill. The (laudable) idea would be to force more low-carbon biofuels and electricity into the transportation system. They should proceed with great caution, though, since most standard variations on the theme could be dangerous. There are, however, some simple potential fixes that would probably take the rough edges off. Read more »

Parsing the Bingaman Climate Bill Draft

by Michael Levi Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Earlier this afternoon, several media outlets posted a discussion draft of a utility-only cap-and-trade bill that Senator Jeff Bingaman is apparently working on. It’s not a finished product (provisions for offsets, for example, remain to be added) and apparently is a slightly out-of-date iteration (dating roughly to April). But it provides some signs of what a utility-only bill might look like,  and what some of the associated issues might be. Three things stand out to me as particularly interesting. Read more »

Does Yingli Solar Really Belong at the World Cup?

by Michael Levi Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yingli Solar, the Chinese rooftop solar photovoltaic company, has been making waves with its prominent sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Times picked up the story yesterday, quoting a Yingli spokesperson who said that the company “pondered” its decision “profoundly, deeply”. My colleague Liz Economy flagged the sponsorship last week. Noting that Yingli’s ads were running next to ones from McDonalds, she worried that China was embracing the future while U.S. companies were stuck representing the past. Read more »

Responding to Andrew Chamberlain

by Michael Levi Friday, July 2, 2010

Andrew Chamberlain has responded at length in two blog posts to my critique of his study of Kerry-Lieberman for the Institute for Energy Research. He gives some useful examples of how utilities might try to game regulators that I’ll engage with below. I’m going, however, to take his points in order, which means that I’ll be negative for a while before I get to that point. Read more »