Michael Levi is the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), director of CFR’s Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change. He is an expert on energy, climate change, nuclear security, and the interplay of global economics and international politics.
Before joining CFR, Dr. Levi was a nonresident science fellow and a science and technology fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. Prior to that, he was director of the Federation of American Scientists' Strategic Security Project.
Dr. Levi has testified before Congress and presented expert scientific evidence to the National Academy of Sciences on climate change and on nuclear security. His essays have been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Nature, andScientific American, among others; his op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times. Dr. Levi previously wrote a monthly online column on science and security for the New Republic, and served as a technical consultant to the critically acclaimed television drama 24. He currently writes a blog on energy, climate, and nuclear issues.
Dr. Levi serves on the mission committee of the Board of Governors of Los Alamos / Lawrence Livermore National Security; the strategic advisory board of NewWorld Capital LLC; and the Advisory Council of Princeton University’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative.
Dr. Levi holds a BSc (Hons.) in mathematical physics from Queen's University (Kingston) and an MA in physics from Princeton University. He holds a PhD in war studies from the University of London (King's College), where he was the SSHRC William E. Taylor fellow. He lives in New York.
Energy, Economics, and International Security
Energy has long been intimately connected with the global economy and international relations. But with rapid changes in the energy landscape, the international economy, and world affairs, scholars' and policymakers' understandings of how energy influences the world are increasingly out of date. In 2010, I convened a workshop to identify important research questions in this space, and published a working paperoutlining important areas for investigation. Since then, I've led an effort to answer many of those questions (along with others that have emerged) through a mix of my own research, commissioned papers, and intensive workshops. My own recent work has produced, among other products, books on the future of U.S. energy and Chinese resource strategyand papers on natural gas exports, the influence of oil in international diplomacy, and the potential role of oil taxes in fiscal reform. Commissioned papers have addressed matters ranging from oil dependence in the Chinese military to the impact of falling U.S. oil imports on the current account. Future activities will continue to illuminate and clarify the relationships between energy, economics, and international security, with an eye toward insights that can inform pressing policy decisions.
This project is made possible through the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Climate Change and Foreign Policy
Climate change is the ultimate foreign policy problem: meeting the aggressive emissions-cutting goals agreed to by governments will require strong action from every major economy in the world. Effectively tackling climate change will require sustained dialogue and collaboration between the climate change and foreign policy communities, much as effective Cold War arms control required collaboration between specialists in nuclear weapons and in foreign policy. My activities aim to build these dialogues through two main means. I conduct and publish research on connections between energy production and climate change, in policy and scientificjournals, and convene dialogues that mix energy producers and people who focus on climate change. Since energy production is a critical part of the international security and foreign policy landscape, this is essential to bridging the two worlds. I also host a series of roundtable discussions that expose foreign policy experts to recent developments in the climate change world. My ongoing activities extend both efforts while deepening a two-way dialogue between the climate policy and foreign policy communities.
International Economics and International Security
The world is economically interdependent like at no time since the outbreak of World War I. Friends and rivals alike are enmeshed in economic relationships that inevitably shape—and are shaped by—their broader foreign policy and international security interactions. Security experts, however, often lack sufficient background to understand the consequences of economic developments, while experts on economics and markets are seldom engaged with security issues beyond their strictly economic implications. My colleagues and I at the Center for Geoeconomic Studies seek to narrow this divide. We aim to do this through two primary activities: convening workshops of scholars and practitioners from both sides of the gulf between economics/markets and foreign/security policy thinking, and producing analyses of historical and contemporary policy challenges that present and compare interpretations of those challenges from both the economics and security perspectives. Through these efforts, we hope to promote a more integrated approach to foreign policy and to provide policymakers with resources that allow them to more effectively address global security risks.
This project is made possible through the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.
China's pursuit of natural resources is restructuring markets, pushing up commodity prices, and transforming resource-rich economies. Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth.
A groundbreaking analysis of what the changes in American energy mean for the economy, national security, and the environment, authored by one of America's most prominent experts on energy's role in the world.
When oil prices plunged in 2014, many analysts predicted that major exporters would have to drastically cut supply or else risk fiscal and geopolitical instability. Michael Levi explains why these predictions have been proven wrong.
Most observers agree that the United States, propelled by its boom in oil and gas production, is becoming increasingly central to global energy. As oil prices have plummeted, American oil producers have taken credit. As U.S. imports have fallen, foreign policy thinkers have suggested that Washington could rely far less on the Middle East.
While oil prices over the last three years were the smoothest in decades, volatility is back and here to stay argue Michael Levi and Robert McNally. Levi and McNally explain how price fluctuations, rather than high prices, endanger global economic growth.
The U.S. energy revolution is not confined to a single fuel or technology: oil and gas production, renewable energy, and fuel-efficient automobile technologies all show great promise. To best position the country for the future, U.S. leaders should capitalize on all these opportunities rather than pick a favorite; the answer lies in 'most of the above.'
The Copenhagen conference won't solve the problem of climate change once and for all. Rather than aiming for a broad international treaty, negotiators should strengthen existing national policies and seek targeted emissions cuts in both rich nations and the developing world.
As climate plays a growing role in energy markets, serious energy analysis can no longer choose to focus only on traditional energy economics and geopolitics, write Michael Levi and Ed Morse. Policymakers, analysts, companies, and investors that deal in traditional energy will need to become much more sophisticated in their understanding of climate policy.
Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore how Chinese demand drive global commodity prices, the broader implications of the Chinese slowdown for the global economy and regional security, and consequences of China’s resource quest for the world’s resource-producing states and industries.
Shale gas is no panacea but, with the right policies to protect communities where gas is produced and to harness the fuel as part of a broader climate strategy, it can play a critical role in confronting global warming, argues Michael A. Levi in a Democracy article.
Drawing on lessons from a Council on Foreign Relations workshop in January 2012, Blake Clayton and Michael A. Levi examine the connection between global oil markets and international relations, saying that in many cases the oil trade is politically consequential simply because policymakers believe that it is.
PanelistsChristophe de MargerieChairman and Chief Executive Office, TOTAL S.A.; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisers, Paolo ScaroniChief Executive Officer, Eni; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisors, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations PresiderDavid M. RubensteinCofounder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, CFR Global Board of Advisers
October 7, 201312:30–1:00 p.m. - Lunch 1:00–2:00 p.m. - Meeting
CFR 90th Anniversary Series on Renewing America: The Future of Energy
SpeakersMichael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, William F. MartinChairman, Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Energy; Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, David SandalowAssistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy PresiderThomas WallinEditor in Chief, Energy Intelligence Group
June 8, 20115:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception 6:00–7:00 p.m. - Meeting
Energy Innovation in Brazil, China, and India: U.S. Policy Implications
SpeakersMichael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Shannon K. O'NeilDouglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations PresiderIrina A. FaskianosVice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
SpeakersFrank E. LoyChair, Board of Directors, PSI, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, CFR, Daniel M. PriceSenior Partner for Global Issues, Sidley Austin, LLP PresiderJuliet EilperinNational Environment Reporter, Washington Post
ModeratorSheila A. SmithSenior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations PanelistsEvan A. FeigenbaumSenior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Adam SegalMaurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, David H. ShinnAdjunct Professor, George Washington University
The United States and the Future of Global Governance: Tackling Climate Change
SpeakersPaula J. DobrianskySenior International Affairs and Trade Advisor, Baker & Hostetler LLP and former Under Secretary, Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Michael A. LeviDavid M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, William John AntholisManaging Director, The Brookings Institution ModeratorJessica T. MathewsPresident, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Can Coal be Clean? The Promise of Climate Change Technology
SpeakersErnest J. MonizCecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, Director, MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rick BoucherMember, U.S. House of Representatives (D-VA) PresiderMichael A. LeviFellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
Joe Nocera will be reading The Power Surge by Michael Levi, an energy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. "He's a pragmatist. He doesn't buy into the pieties of the right or the pieties of the left. He thinks about practical solutions, what works, what doesn't, what makes sense, and where we're truly headed in terms of energy."
In The Power Surge, Michael Levi takes readers inside the changes sweeping American energy to find out what they mean for the country and how the United States can harness the new opportunities they create.
By All Means Necessary
In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth.