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 "politics"

Under Trump, Private Sector May Lead U.S. Climate Action

by Guest blogger for Varun Sivaram
The Googleplex, Google's corporate headquarters, generates much of its power from rooftop solar installations (Reuters/Erin Siegel) The Googleplex, Google's corporate headquarters, generates much of its power from rooftop solar installations (Reuters/Erin Siegel)

This post is authored by Shayle Kann, the head of GTM Research and Senior Vice President at Greentech Media: a Wood Mackenzie Business.

As the inauguration of President Donald Trump approaches, the future of federal action on energy and climate change remains highly uncertain. And although nothing is set in stone, there is mounting evidence that the new administration will drastically change course from the path set out by President Obama. Among the most recent news: Read more »

An Energy Innovation Agenda for the Trump Administration

by Varun Sivaram
Secretary of Energy nominee Rick Perry speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio Reuters/Mike Segar) Secretary of Energy nominee Rick Perry speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio Reuters/Mike Segar)

Democrats and Republicans are girding for battle over energy policy. The two parties are far apart on most issues, like the future of the Clean Power Plan and federal restrictions on oil and gas drilling. But with the Presidential election in the rearview mirror, Donald Trump and the 115th Congress have a chance to embrace a mainstream energy agenda with support from both sides of the aisle and deliver on campaign promises to create manufacturing jobs and boost exports. Read more »

Climate Change and U.S. Leadership Under President Trump

by Guest blogger for Varun Sivaram
Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Charleston, West Virginia as the Republican presidential candidate in May 2016 (Reuters/Chris Tilley) Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Charleston, West Virginia as the Republican presidential candidate in May 2016 (Reuters/Chris Tilley)

This guest post was written by Lindsay Iversen, associate director of climate and resources at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In the week since Donald Trump’s election, the energy and environment community has struggled to come to grips with candidate Trump’s positions on climate change and energy policy—positions that were not deeply explored during the campaign or raised by the moderators in any of the debates. If enacted, the policies Trump has proposed will reverberate beyond American borders, with potentially serious ramifications for U.S. leadership in other foreign policy realms. Read more »

Time to Repeal U.S. Oil and Gas Tax Breaks

by Varun Sivaram

This post is co-authored by Sagatom Saha, research associate for energy and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read “The Impact of Removing Tax Preferences for U.S. Oil and Gas Production,” a Discussion Paper from CFR’s Program on Energy Security and Climate Change in the Center for Geoeconomic Studies. Read more »

Securitization: The Next Big Thing in Solar Energy Financing

by Varun Sivaram
Vivint Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in California (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni). Vivint Solar technicians install solar panels on the roof of a house in California (Reuters/Mario Anzuoni).

This post was co-written by Sagatom Saha, research associate for energy and foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Recent headlines from the solar energy industry have been bleak. SunEdison—a solar developer which just a year ago aspired to join the ranks of multinational oil companies as an energy “supermajor”—declared bankruptcy in April, after wiping out $9 billion in market value. And the share prices of Yieldcos, the financial vehicles which promised to tap vast capital markets to finance renewable energy projects, have plummeted as well. Last year, I wrote that Yieldcos’ aggressive growth targets and financial model made them vulnerable to the vicious downward spiral that has played out. Read more »

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: A Policy Response to Oil Price Volatility?

by Guest blogger for Varun Sivaram
A maze of crude oil pipes and valves at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas (REUTERS/Richard Carson). A maze of crude oil pipes and valves at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas (REUTERS/Richard Carson).

This guest post is authored by Jason Bordoff, professor of professional practice and founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. For more on the causes, consequences, and policy implications of oil price volatility, read the report from a recent CFR workshop. 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 »

The Supreme Court Just Clarified Rules for Modern Power Regulation…Or Did It?

by Varun Sivaram
The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court (Reuters/Gary Cameron) The U.S. Supreme Court (Reuters/Gary Cameron)

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government is empowered to regulate wholesale demand response, or targeted reductions in electricity use by consumers in response to peak demand. The ruling, in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) v. Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), has been hailed by a broad coalition comprising environmental activists, regulators, and companies, because demand response can reduce rates and ease strain on the grid. 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 »

One More Reason to Raise the Gas Tax Now

by Michael Levi
Gasoline price gas tax 2015 REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Three months ago gas taxes were untouchable. Now, with oil prices down, they’re having a moment. Public voices from Larry Summers to Charles Krauthammer are calling for hikes. (Summers argues for a carbon tax; Krauthammer says the tax should be raised “a lot”.) More important, serious lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have gotten in on the game. The general thrust of the arguments on offer is that with oil prices falling, it’s now possible to raise the gas tax and still leave consumers better off than they were half a year ago. That right, but I think there’s an even stronger argument to be made. Read more »