Varun Sivaram

Energy, Security, and Climate

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Diplomacy"

Climate Change Could Enhance Risk of Conflict

by Guest blogger for Varun Sivaram
A Syrian man carries a water container as he is accompanied by a woman at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi (Reuters/Umit Bektas) A Syrian man carries a water container as he is accompanied by a woman at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

This is a guest post by Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and author of the CFR discussion paper, Water and U.S. National Security. Read more »

Sustaining Fuel Subsidy Reform Should Be a Top U.S. Priority

by Varun Sivaram
People jostle for a pump nozzle at a petrol station during a fuel shortage in Cairo (Reuters/Abd El Ghany) People jostle for a pump nozzle at a petrol station during a fuel shortage in Cairo (Reuters/Abd El Ghany)

Last week, I released a new CFR discussion paper entitled, “Sustaining Fuel Subsidy Reform,” with my colleague Jennifer Harris. Over the last two years, governments around the world have taken advantage of the plunge in global oil prices to reduce or eliminate consumer subsidies for fuels like gasoline or natural gas. However, these reforms are often unpopular and crumble under political pressure despite their economic, security, and environmental benefits. Read more »

The International Energy Agency’s Hybrid Model

by Guest blogger for Varun Sivaram
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol at the China-IEA side event during the Paris climate negotiations (IEA/George Kamiya)

This guest post is co-authored by Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Naomi Egel, former research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations and doctoral student at Cornell University.  Read more »

WTO Ruling Against India’s Solar Policies Previews Clashes Between Trade and Climate Agendas

by Varun Sivaram
Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic solar panel at the Gujarat solar park under construction in the Indian state of Gujarat (Reuters/Amit Dave). Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic solar panel at the Gujarat solar park under construction in the Indian state of Gujarat (Reuters/Amit Dave).

This week, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel decided in favor of the United States and against India in a dispute over Indian domestic content requirements for sourcing solar power. Reading the headlines, one might worry that “The WTO Just Ruled Against India’s Booming Solar Program” or, worse, that the “WTO swats down India’s massive solar initiative.” 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 »

Molina and Zaelke: Cutting Short-Lived Pollutants Can Give Quick Wins on Warming

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
climate change; emissions; pollution; Paris REUTERS/Bret Hartman

Policymakers should look to reductions in potent, short-lived pollutants to reduce warming faster than cuts to carbon dioxide emissions alone, write Nobel Prize-winner Mario Molina and Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development founder Durwood Zaelke in this guest post. This piece is part of our ongoing guest blog series surrounding the Paris climate talks, which has included posts on China’s political rhetoric, international climate institutions beyond the UN talks, and the links between climate and conflict in northern Nigeria. Read more »

Stewart Patrick: Combating Climate Change Beyond Paris

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The UN climate talks in Paris are just one part of the international climate policy regime, write Stewart Patrick, director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, and Research Associate Naomi Egel. In this post, part of our ongoing guest series on the Paris summit, they note other institutions contributing to the climate policy process and highlight several climate policy options from CFR’s Global Governance Monitor. Read more »

Yanzhong Huang: China’s New Rhetoric at COP21

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
China; Climate Change; COP21 REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

China’s public rhetoric about international climate policy has changed dramatically since the 2009 UN summit in Copenhagen, write Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for Global Health, and Research Associate Ariella Rotenberg. In this piece, part of our series of guest posts on the UN climate summit in Paris, they explain why that is and what it might mean for the ongoing UN summit in Paris. Read more »

TPP: A Small Step in the Right Direction on Climate

by Varun Sivaram
President Barack Obama attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting at the ASEAN Summit at Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 20, 2012. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

Yesterday, after five years of negotiations, the Obama administration released the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement between the United States and eleven other countries. Ahead of the text’s unveiling, environmental groups had already voiced their displeasure at what they expected to see—indeed, the Sierra Club warned that “TPP would impose additional limits on the ability of governments to tackle climate change”. Read more »

A Faustian Bargain for Ukraine?

by Michael Levi

Earlier today Russia intervened dramatically in Ukraine’s political turmoil with an offer to sell the cash-strapped country deeply discounted natural gas. The New York Times captured the prevailing wisdom when it wrote that it was unclear what “Russia might receive in return for its assistance”. Here’s an answer: Russia will receive immense leverage over Ukraine. Indeed history suggests that cheap energy is much more effective than expensive energy as a true source of geopolitical leverage. Read more »