Michael A. Levi is the David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and director of the CFR program on energy security and climate change. He is an expert on climate change, energy security, arms control, and nuclear terrorism.
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 is author of The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future (Oxford University Press, May 2013), and By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World (with Elizabeth Economy), (Oxford University Press, February 2014). He is also the author of the books On Nuclear Terrorism (Harvard University Press, 2007) and (with Michael O'Hanlon) The Future of Arms Control (Brookings Institution Press, 2005). He was project director for the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on climate change, co-chaired by former governors Tom Vilsack and George Pataki. His 2005 monograph with Michael D'Arcy, Untapped Potential: U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation with the Islamic World, was the first comprehensive study of science and technology in the Muslim world. His recent writings include studies of natural gas exports, the Canadian oil sands, and the global politics and economics of clean energy innovation.
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, and Scientific 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 holds a BSc (Hons.) in mathematical physics from Queen's University (Kingston) and an MA in physics from Princeton University, where he studied string theory and cosmology. 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 paper outlining 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 strategy and 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 scientific journals, 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.
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.
See more in China; Energy and Environment; Globalization
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.
See more in Energy Policy; Oil; United States
Drawing from our long experience with terrorism, Michael A. Levi proposes new principles for understanding and defending against nuclear threats.
See more in Defense Strategy; Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Canadian oil sands present an important challenge to policymakers: they promise energy security benefits but present climate change problems. Michael A. Levi assesses the energy security and climate change effects of the oil sands and makes recommendations for U.S. policymakers within the context of broader bilateral relations with Canada.
See more in Canada; Climate Change; Oil
Unlike during the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack now comes from rogue states that receive their weapons from sovereign nations. In this report, Michael A. Levi outlines how to discourage those nations from giving their nuclear technologies to terrorists, how to prevent accidental transfers, and the role that nuclear attribution plays in contemporary proliferation.
See more in United States; Proliferation; State Sponsors of Terrorism
This Council Special Report addresses the controversial nuclear deal between the United States and India, offering practical recommendations for promoting U.S.-India relations while strengthening nonproliferation.
See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Congresses, Parliaments, National Legislatures; United States; India
The UN climate meeting could show progress on outstanding issues from previous rounds, but negotiators are focused on modest steps forward rather than major breakthroughs, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Climate Change
Delegates at climate talks underway in South Africa would be better off addressing matters such as a global climate fund rather than trying to preserve the contentious Kyoto Protocol, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Climate Change
China's newly announced goal for cutting carbon intensity reflects important Chinese policy shifts of recent years, but fails to offer significant new measures to cut emissions, writes CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Climate Change; China
The main U.S. bill on confronting climate change should adjust the way it proposes cushioning some vulnerable U.S. industries to avoid stirring protectionist fears, writes CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in United States; Trade; Climate Change
CFR Senior Fellow Michael Levi writes that the financial crisis will affect U.S. near-term efforts to deal with energy security and climate change.
See more in Climate Change
Prices at the pump are emerging as a significant U.S. election issue. Five experts offer a range of policy options, from lowering regulations to encouraging less consumption.
See more in United States; Oil
Which policies have worked and which ones need work ten years after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history? CFR experts examine ten issues that have preoccupied U.S. planners.
See more in 9/11 Impact; United States
Can the United States improve its energy security in a clean, affordable, and efficient way? Five experts offer solutions to the daunting energy challenges facing the United States.
See more in United States; Energy Policy; Oil
The worst oil spill in U.S. history, still growing in the Gulf of Mexico, has intensified debate about alternative fuel options. Here, four experts discuss how to reduce U.S. oil consumption.
See more in Oil; United States
With some findings of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in question, four experts debate how much the premier climate science review panel may need to make changes.
See more in Climate Change; Global
President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address focused heavily, as expected, on domestic economic recovery and reasserting U.S. competitiveness. Six CFR experts noted different aspects of the challenges facing Obama.
See more in United States; Competitiveness; Financial Crises
Six experts weigh in on the consequences for the U.S. economy if Congress creates a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system.
See more in United States; Climate Change
The United States has made real strides against nuclear terrorism, but efforts to secure nuclear materials are incomplete and will require continued commitment, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; United States; 9/11 Impact
On the anniversary of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, CFR's Michael Levi says the most surprising thing is how marginal its impact on the energy debate has been.
See more in United States; Disasters; Oil
President Obama's new tack on boosting oil and gas production marks a welcome strategy shift but he still must flesh out details while facing obstacles from the left and right, says CFR's Michael A. Levi.
See more in Energy Policy; United States; Oil
U.S. nuclear power faces renewed scrutiny amid Japan's crisis, but it is far too early to gauge the damage suffered by Japan's industry and the effect on U.S. atomic energy's future, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Japan; Nuclear Energy