Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Managing Oil Crises

by Michael Levi Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In an essay in tomorrow’s FT, I argue that ongoing oil market turmoil ought to remind us that energy policy shouldn’t just be about long-term strategy; short-term dynamics matter too. Most advocates have responded to the current situation with predictable calls to expand supply, curb demand, or develop alternatives, but none of these will do much in the next decade. The world also needs serious crisis management plans. The essay focuses on three elements: strategic reserve strategy; coordination of emergency measures with emerging markets (particularly China); and, more speculatively, possible curbs on market speculation during times of extraordinary geopolitical stress. Read more »

Beware the Strategic Consequences of Slashing International Climate Assistance

by Michael Levi Monday, February 14, 2011

The Obama administration budget request for FY2012 is out. The contrast with the House Republican alternative is stark. Nowhere is this more clear than in funding for international climate change activities, where the administration has scaled back its request modestly from its FY2011 submission (but is still asking for considerably more than was appropriated for FY2010), while the House Republican proposal envisions eliminating almost all U.S. spending. Read more »

Wikileaks Hysteria Meets Peak Oil

by Michael Levi Thursday, February 10, 2011

The energy blogosphere is in a tizzy over a series of Wikileaks cables that entertain the possibility that world is heading toward peak oil. The FT’s Energy Source goes with the headline “US fears Saudi Arabia cannot keep up with oil demand”, Fast Company settles on “WikiLeaks May Have Just Confirmed That Peak Oil Is Imminent”, and Joe Romm goes all in with “WikiLeaks peak oil bombshell: Saudi Arabian reserves overstated by 40%, global production plateau imminent”. I don’t know about you, but I’m buying gold and stocking up on tinned meats as soon as I finish writing this post. Read more »

Why Are Oil Producing States Prone To War?

by Michael Levi Monday, February 7, 2011

A casual glance at the last few decades of history suggests that oil exporting states (Iraq, Venezuela, Iran, etc) have an unfortunate habit of getting involved in international conflict. A fascinating new paper in the journal International Organization (subscription required) takes a careful look at this phenomenon and asks a simple question: what exactly do we know about when and why oil producing states go to war? Read more »

Energy Innovation Isn’t Just About Technology

by Michael Levi Wednesday, February 2, 2011

For many people, innovation is pretty much synonymous with technology. But when it comes to dealing with our energy and climate problems, we’re going to need innovation on other fronts. In particular, we’re going to need new business models that fit with clean energy. One key part of that that I keep coming back to in my thinking is finance. Read more »