Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

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Showing posts for "Michael Levi"

Moving On

by Michael Levi

This is my last post on this blog. I start a job on Tuesday on the National Economic Council Staff; blogging isn’t part of the portfolio.

When I started this blog six years ago, I never imagined it would become such an important part of my professional life. It’s been gratifying to know that there’s an audience for analysis-driven blogging on energy and climate from an independent point of view. And it’s been a treat to engage with readers. Read more »

Liberal Bias and Climate Science

by Michael Levi

Eduardo Porter has a column in the New York Times today arguing that “Liberal Biases, Too, May Block Progress on Climate Change”. (Yes, that’s a headline that he didn’t write, but it’s a good summary of the column’s message.) I’m on board with that bottom line. But his central example of liberal hostility to the “the scientific consensus” unintentionally highlights a different problem: conflation of science with values and judgment. Read more »

Budget Deal Oil-for-Renewables Trade Would Substantially Reduce Carbon Emissions

by Michael Levi and Varun Sivaram
Solar panels on top of a housing complex in National City, California (Reuters/Mike Blake)

This post is coauthored by Varun Sivaram and Michael Levi.

Congress is set to vote on a budget deal that would permanently end the long-standing ban on crude oil exports in exchange for temporary extensions of tax credits that support solar and wind energy. Michael wrote on Tuesday about the market, climate, and geopolitical impact of lifting the oil export ban. In this post we’re going to estimate the climate impact of the renewables tax credit extensions. We focus on 2016-2020 for three reasons: (a) it’s the period for which we have the best data; (b) beyond 2020, complex interactions with the Clean Power Plan make things much tougher to model; and (c) most important, beyond 2020, the primary effect of the ITC/PTC extension should be to make reducing emissions cheaper, and thus enable stronger policy, something that can’t be quantitatively modeled. Read more »

Oil Exports Budget Deal? Market, Climate, and Geopolitical Consequences

by Michael Levi
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

News outlets are reporting that a congressional budget deal could end the oil export ban in exchange for extension of the Investment and Production Tax Credits (ITC and PTC) that support solar and wind energy. Here I want to lay out what ending the oil export ban could mean for markets, climate, and geopolitics. (I suspect Varun may weigh in later on the ITC/PTC extensions if and when details emerge.) Short version: Little immediate impact on anything; a possible boost on the order of a few hundred thousand barrels a day to U.S. oil production over the longer run; a factor of perhaps fifty smaller impact on carbon dioxide emissions than the Clean Power Plan and CAFE (fuel economy standards); and a mixed bag for geopolitics and trade talks. Read more »

Two Cheers for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

by Michael Levi
Paris; climate; UN; COP21 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

LE BOURGET, FRANCE – The Paris climate summit (also known as COP 21) has adopted a new “Paris Agreement”. The agreement has the potential to mark a laudable and historic shift in how the world negotiates cooperation on climate change. It does not justify the over-the-top claims that some are making – that it spells the end of fossil fuels or assures that temperatures will rise no more than two degrees – but those who negotiated it never believed it could. Nor does it deserve to be pilloried (a rarer but still real reaction) for failing to save the planet – an entirely unreasonable expectation. Instead it begins to set up a framework for transparency and review of countries’ nationally driven emissions-cutting efforts and a process for encouraging stronger efforts over time. In doing so it meets the modest but important goals that were sensibly set for the negotiations. Only time will tell, though, whether the full promise of the Paris Agreement is achieved. Read more »

What the TPP Means for LNG

by Michael Levi
Japan LNG TPP trans-pacific partnership trade natural gas REUTERS/Issei Kato

This post was co-written with Cole Wheeler, CFR’s research associate for energy and the environment. 

Unfettered access to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) was reportedly a prime motivation behind Japan’s decision to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks. The United States already gives automatic approval of exports to 18 other countries with which it has special free trade agreements (FTAs), but requires distinct permits for exports to others, including Japan. Yet there has been scant (if any) reporting on this issue since the release of the final TPP text two weeks ago, and there appears to be considerable confusion about what the deal actually does. A look at the text of the agreement in the context of U.S. law confirms that it grants automatic approval of exports to Japan and the other TPP member nations. Read more »