Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Fun With Energy and Climate Ngrams

by Michael Levi Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If you haven’t seen Google’s new “Ngram Viewer“, you’re missing out. The tool allows you to see how often any word shows up within Google’s massive database of books, and to graph how that evolves over time. (Here’s a good run-down in the Journal.) Without further ado, then, here are some interesting tidbits about energy and climate. Read more »

Iran is Slashing its Gasoline Subsidies. What Happens Next?

by Michael Levi Monday, December 20, 2010

I took the picture in this post somewhere outside of Tehran in early 2006. The number at the bottom is the price of gasoline – at the time, a massively subsidized 800 rials (about 8 cents) per liter, equivalent to about 30 cents per gallon. As of a few days ago, the price of gasoline was still 1000 rials per liter for the first 60 liters a month. On Saturday night, though, the Iranian president announced that subsidies would be abruptly slashed. Each of the first 60 liters of gasoline per person will now cost 4000 rials (about $1.50 per gallon), and additional gasoline will go for 7000 rials per liter (about $2.70 per gallon). Read more »

An Important Report on Energy RD&D

by Michael Levi Thursday, December 16, 2010

Now that Cancun is done, it’s time to start thinking hard again about the nitty-gritty of low-carbon development. Harvard’s Energy Technology Innovation Program (ETIP) has a big new report (along with a shorter policy brief) on government investment in energy RD&D in what they call “the BRIMCS”: Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, China, and South Africa. The report’s headline is that government investment is greater in the BRIMCS than in the OECD. My preliminary read of the report is that the most interesting stuff is elsewhere. Read more »

Mangling Energy Efficiency Economics

by Michael Levi Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Switch to a more efficient car, and you’ll drive a bit more, since extra gasoline now costs you less. This well-known phenomenon is known as the “rebound effect”. In the case of cars, it eats up about ten percent of the fuel savings from greater fuel efficiency. But at the level of economies, many believe, it’s much worse. All the money saved through more efficient automobiles and better refrigerators doesn’t just mean more summer road trips and Sub-Zeros – it means more money pumped into the whole economy, and hence greater emissions overall. Read more »

A View from Kenya on Cancun

by Michael Levi Thursday, December 9, 2010

I asked Josh Busby, an Assistant Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, to write a guest post for this blog. Josh is conducting research on climate change in Kenya right now; in this post, he connects what he’s seeing on the ground to the climate talks in Cancun. Earlier this year, the CFR Program on International Institutions and Global Governance published his paper “After Copenhagen: Climate Governance and the Road Ahead“; he also wrote a study for us a couple years ago on climate change and national security. Read more »

A Tale of Two Treaties

by Michael Levi Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I have an op-ed in Wednesday’s USA Today on the New START nuclear arms control agreement. I should note that I’m more than a bit uneasy with the title they’ve given it (“Treaty Hypocrisy: The GOP and New START”); I’d originally called it “A Tale of Two Treaties”, and don’t mean for it to be partisan or political, but rather to illustrate an important lesson. In any case, here’s how it starts: Read more »