Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

How Bad Could High Gas Prices Be?

by Michael Levi Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gas prices continue to climb, and, as I predicted last week, so does the volume of gas price punditry. That post sparked a sequence of smart thoughts from Matt Yglesias, Ryan Avent, Tim Duy, and Karl Smith. They collectively raise two big points that are worth talking about. (There’s also a lot of discussion of Federal Reserve policy – see here for my thoughts on that.) Read more »

Will High Oil Prices Crush the U.S. Economy?

by Michael Levi Friday, February 24, 2012

Rising gasoline prices have a way of bringing out the hidden energy pundit in all of us. Most speculation tends to focus on why oil prices might be rising and on how high they might go. But a second strand of questioning is probably even more important: What do rising prices mean for the world? There’s a lot of wisdom that’s accumulated over the past few decades in attempts to answer that question. But I have to wonder whether there aren’t some fundamental changes that might render a lot of it obsolete. Read more »

Road Warriors Face an Uphill Battle

by Blake Clayton Friday, February 24, 2012

Gasoline prices are the talk of the town right now. Lots of stories are circulating about where prices are on a historical basis and what this summer might bring. $4 a gallon? $5? Some have predicted even $6 a gallon. Wait, it gets better. You’d think you were at a horse auction the way analysts are talking these days. Read more »

How To Talk To Tehran

by Michael Levi Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Richard Haass and I have an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal in which we outline a strategy for U.S. diplomacy with Iran. The basics are simple: Neither war nor containment is an attractive option. Moreover, with economic and military pressure on Tehran rising, Iranian leaders may be gaining greater incentives to do a deal, and the United States may be gaining more leverage. At the same time, there’s little chance that the Iranian regime could give up enrichment entirely and survive; meanwhile, on the U.S. side, no deal is worthwhile if it leaves Iran too close to the bomb. We thus outline a mix of inspections and physical limits on the Iranian program that the United States should put on the table; if Iran accepts, the newest sanctions (including impending ones) should be dialed back. Until that happens, the current sanctions should stay in place, and the ones coming down the pike should proceed apace. Read more »

Yellow Flags On A New Methane Study

by Michael Levi Monday, February 13, 2012

A forthcoming paper in the influential Journal of Geophysical Research has measured concentrations of methane and other alkanes in air near oil and gas operations in Weld County, Colorado, and has used that to infer rates of methane leakage from natural gas production in the region. Their results, which were reported last week by Nature and the Associated Press, point to much higher methane emissions than consensus inventories have previously found. Indeed some have read the results as confirming the highly controversial estimates of methane leakage published last year by Cornell professor Robert Howarth and his colleagues. Read more »

The Hidden U.S. Export Boom

by Blake Clayton Friday, February 10, 2012

Before I launch into the post, I thought it might be good for me to introduce myself to you readers, since I’m going to be blogging pretty regularly in the coming months. I joined CFR last October as a fellow for energy and national security as part of a larger Sloan Foundation-funded initiative, the Program on Energy and National Security. I’m delighted to be a part of the CFR and am looking forward to working on this new energy program. Read more »

What If We’re Wrong About Natural Gas?

by Michael Levi Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Most analysts are incredibly bullish about the prospects of shale gas production in the United States. An early preview of the annual U.S. government energy projections, released last month, sees U.S. gas production rising steadily for decades. Petrochemicals producers are building new plants, and other industrialists are conjuring schemes for exporting the fuel. Security hawks dream of compressing the gas and putting it into cars and trucks so that the United States can use less oil. Some environmentalists are relieved that gas will back out coal and thus cut carbon emissions. Read more »