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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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 »

Beyond Climate Confusion: Why Both Energy Innovation and Deployment Matter

by Varun Sivaram
A simulation of an advanced nuclear reactor design (Idaho National Laboratory) A simulation of an advanced nuclear reactor design (Idaho National Laboratory)

I have a new essay in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs—“The Clean Energy Revolution: Fighting Climate Change with Innovation”—which I co-authored with Teryn Norris, a former advisor at the Department of Energy (DOE). We are grateful for the positive and constructive comments we’ve received, but I do want to respond to a pair of critical posts by Joseph Romm, formerly an acting Assistant Secretary at the DOE under President Clinton. I hope we can put to rest an unhelpful debate among those passionate about confronting climate change, or, at the very least, respectfully agree to disagree. Read more »

Japan Should Increase Its Target for Renewable Energy, In Case Nuclear Restarts Stall

by Varun Sivaram
An aerial view shows the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station, the only two units operating in Japan (Reuters/Kyodo TPX). An aerial view shows the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station, the only two units operating in Japan (Reuters/Kyodo TPX).

I’ve been traveling in Japan, meeting with government officials, power sector executives, and energy policy scholars. I thank CFR life member Bill Martin, Washington Policy and Analysis, and the Japanese Federation of Electric Power Companies for generously hosting me. Read more »

Alyssa Ayres: India at Paris – Working with a Rising India

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
climate change; Paris; COP21; India REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

India’s status as a large developing country and a major emitter complicates its position at the Paris climate talks, writes Alyssa Ayres in this guest blog post, but there are signs that its delegation is working more constructively than in years past toward a deal. This piece is part of our guest series surrounding the UN talks in Paris. Previous posts addressed deforestation, short-lived pollutants, climate change and conflict in northern Nigeria, international climate institutions beyond the UN, and China’s rhetoric on climate. Read more »

Jennifer Harris: Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Forests in Paris

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
climate change; deforestation; Indonesia REUTERS/Beawiharta

Deforestation is a critical source of carbon emissions that should not be overlooked in climate negotiations, argues Senior Fellow Jennifer Harris in this guest blog post. Her piece is part of our ongoing guest series surrounding the Paris climate talks, with previous posts on short-lived pollutants, climate and conflict in northern Nigeria, international climate institutions beyond the UN process, and China’s climate rhetoric. 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 »

Guest Post: Financing to Protect Forests: Will Carbon Markets Deliver?

by Guest Blogger for Michael Levi
deforestation climate REDD+ forests REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Carbon markets, once touted as a golden ticket for funding efforts to reduce deforestation, have yet to deliver on their promise. In this guest post, Brian Murray, research professor of environmental economics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, explains why and proposes alternative financing options. For more on global efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation, see the report from CFR’s recent workshop on the subject, at which Dr. Murray was a speaker. Read more »

Now What’s That Got to Do with the Price of Oil?

by Varun Sivaram
The 300MW Stateline wind farm, owned by Nextera Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP), a renewable energy Yieldco (Nextera Energy) The 300MW Stateline wind farm, owned by Nextera Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP), a renewable energy Yieldco (Nextera Energy)

This post was co-written with Peyton Kliefoth, an economics major at Northwestern University and research intern at the Council.

Over the weekend, I published a piece in Fortune Magazine explaining a surprising correlation between falling oil prices and tumbling shares of Yieldcos, which are publicly traded holding companies mostly comprising renewable energy assets in the U.S. and Europe (see chart below). Read more »

Guest Post: Cleaning Up the Mess at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation

by Michael Levi
Nigeria oil NPPC Buhari Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This was originally posted by my colleague John Campbell on his Africa in Transition blog. John was formerly U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and is currently the Ralph Bunche senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »