Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Should You Pay Attention to the UN Climate Talks?

by Michael Levi Friday, November 30, 2012

The annual United Nations (UN) climate talks are rarely a pretty sight. The typical script is fairly reliable. Negotiators typically arrive at each summit with mostly realistic goals. But diplomats and those who seek to influence them spend the first week or so ratcheting up demands and accusations, in part for leverage, but at least as much in order to make themselves look good and their adversaries appear villainous. Members of the media (if they’re paying attention) report that the talks appear set for disaster. Meanwhile, away from the spotlight, negotiators quietly hash through the substantive tasks at hand. Eventually, in the middle of the second week, higher level officials arrive. Occasionally, important differences prove impractical to resolve, and the summit collapses. Far more often, the parties cobble something modest together, apparently snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Read more »

Some Thoughts on the Doha Climate Talks

by Michael Levi Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The annual United Nations climate talks got underway in Doha, Qatar on Monday.

In a piece for the CFR website, I walk through the issues on the table, and offer some thoughts on U.S. strategy. The title of the piece – “A Transitional Climate Summit in Doha” – is a pretty good summary.  After three years of high tension and high stakes summits, Doha will almost certainly be more mellow, though no climate conference would be complete without a few fireworks toward the end. Read the whole piece for more. Read more »

The Big Wild Card Behind the Oil Boom Headlines

by Michael Levi Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The International Energy Agency (IEA) made headlines around the world earlier this week when it published a major report predicting that the United States would pass Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2017. It is a striking conclusion that reinforces much of what industry analysts have been writing for the past several months. Read more »

The Future of Energy Insecurity

by Blake Clayton Friday, November 9, 2012

A massive cyberattack this summer on Saudi Aramco, Riyadh’s energy giant, left some 30,000-plus of the company’s computers lifeless, making a rather futuristic threat to the oil and gas industry front page news. U.S. Secretary of Defenese Leon Panetta called the attack “probably the most destructive…that the business sector has seen to date.” The Saudis weren’t the only targets. RasGas, a Qatari natural gas company, was also hit. Months later, investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, and more importantly, why it did, and what can stop it from happening again. Read more »

Two Paths Forward on Oil and Gas

by Michael Levi Friday, November 9, 2012

In a post earlier this week, I argued that people who want serious action on climate change will need to build bipartisan coalitions, which will require accepting oil and gas development. Most of the responses were encouraging, but one type of reaction was not. It came from proponents of oil and gas development, and went something like this: “Great post. But the United States can’t do anything about climate change because [it’s too expensive][renewable energy sucks][China won’t act][etc]”. Read more »

Two Paths Forward on Climate Change

by Michael Levi Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The past week has been huge for people who want to see the United States go big on climate change. First Hurricane Sandy vaulted climate change back into the public debate. Now the reelection of Barack Obama means that there will be someone in the White House who cares strongly about the issue. The combination creates an opportunity to press for climate action. Read more »