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Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

Expertise

Climate change; energy policy; weapons of mass destruction; homeland security; arms control and proliferation; technology and foreign policy; science and technology in the Islamic world.

Bio

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.

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.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Op-Ed

Some simple security steps

Author: Michael A. Levi
Washington Times

Michael Levi writes that “the revelation last week that Slovak and Hungarian police arrested three men suspected of selling uranium powder is sure to spark an investigation into how security at the source of those materials failed. It would be wise, though, to study not only how defenses failed but also how authorities succeeded in breaking up the plot.”

See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Defense Strategy; Homeland Security

Other Report

Fiscal Breakeven Oil Prices: Uses, Abuses, and Opportunities for Improvement

Authors: Blake Clayton and Michael A. Levi

Fiscal "breakeven" oil prices have become popular among analysts and decision-makers as indicators of oil-producing countries' economic and political stability, but there are limits to the insights that breakeven prices provide. Blake Clayton and Michael A. Levi assess the potential value and most important pitfalls involved in using fiscal breakeven oil prices.

 

See more in Global; Oil; Economics

Recent Activity from Energy, Security, and Climate

CFR Events

Conference Call

Global Markets and the Chinese Economy

Speakers Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

, Brad W. Setser

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

January 6, 2016 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

January 6, 2016

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Call ⁄ New York

Media Call: Global Implications of the Federal Reserve's Decision to Hike Rates

December 17, 2015 2:00 p.m.-2:50 p.m.

December 17, 2015

This meeting is not for attribution.

Conference Call

Conference Call: Assessing the Paris Climate Talks

Speakers Andy Karsner

Senior Advisor, Emerson Collective; Senior Advisor, Google X; Former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Sherri W. Goodman

President and Chief Executive Officer, Consortium for Ocean Leadership

December 17, 2015 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

December 17, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

World Energy Outlook 2015 with Fatih Birol

Speaker Fatih Birol

Executive Director, International Energy Agency


Presider Michael A. Levi

Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

December 1, 2015 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.


5:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m.—6:30 p.m. Meeting
*Please note special timing*
December 1, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Media Call: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Speakers Sheila A. Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Edward Alden

Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow and Director of the Renewing America Initiative, Council on Foreign Relations

October 6, 2015 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

October 6, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

CFR Back-to-School Event: International Efforts to Combat Climate Change

Introductory Speaker Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations


Speakers Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and
Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Varun Sivaram

Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Strategic Advisor, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision Initiative


Presider Amy Harder

Energy Reporter, Wall Street Journal

October 2, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Media Call: The Federal Reserve's Interest Rate Decision

Speakers Benn Steil

Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

, Robert Kahn

Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

The Implications of the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision

September 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.


The Implications of the Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision

September 18, 2015 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

September 18, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

Policy Options for Addressing Climate Change

Speakers Mitchell C. Hescox

President and Chief Executive Officer, Evangelical Environmental Network

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and
Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Christine Todd Whitman

President, The Whitman Strategy Group LLC; Former
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Former Governor, State of New Jersey


Moderator Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

May 20, 2015 8:30–9:45 a.m.

This meeting is on the record.

Listen Watch

Meeting

Media Call on Framework Agreement to Limit Iran's Nuclear Program

Speakers Ray Takeyh

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies


Presider David E. Sanger

National Security Correspondent, New York Times

April 3, 2015 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

World Economic Update

Speakers Lewis Alexander

Managing Director and Chief U.S. Economist, Nomura Securities International Inc.; Former Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury

, Philippe Legrain

Senior Fellow, The European Institute, London School of Economics; Former Economic Advisor to the President, European Commission

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Sebastian Mallaby

Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

January 21, 2015 7:45–8:00 a.m. - Breakfast
8:00–9:00 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

Conference Call: Assessing the U.S.-China Climate Deal

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy
and the Environment, and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Robert McMahon

Editor, CFR.org

November 14, 2014 2:00–3:00 p.m. - Conference Call

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Risk and Geopolitics

Speakers Samuel Greene

Director, Russia Institute, King's College London

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations

, Anatol Lieven

Chair, International Relations, War Studies Department, King's College London

, Thomas Rid

Professor of Security Studies, King's College London


Presider Gideon Rose

Peter G. Peterson Chair and Editor, Foreign Affairs

March 25, 2014 2:00–3:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Meeting ⁄ Washington

DC Fellows' Book Launch Series--By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World

Speakers Elizabeth C. Economy

C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

February 4, 2014 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Registration
6:00–6:45 p.m. - Meeting
6:45–7:15 p.m. - Reception and Book Signing

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series--By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World

Speakers Elizabeth C. Economy

C.V. Starr Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

, Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Richard N. Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

January 29, 2014 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception
6:00–6:45 p.m. - Discussion
6:45–7:15 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CEO Speaker Series: The Future of Energy

Panelists Christophe 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
Presider David M. RubensteinCofounder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, CFR Global Board of Advisers
October 7, 2013 12:30–1:00 p.m. - Lunch
1:00–2:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Michael Levi and Peter Orszag on America's Energy Future

Speakers Michael A. Levi

Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations

, Peter R. Orszag

Vice Chairman of Global Banking, Citigroup


Presider Robert McMahon

Editor, CFR.org, Council on Foreign Relations

May 3, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Climate Change and the Obama Administration

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

February 21, 2013 12:00–1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

President Obama's Energy Agenda

Speaker Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations


Presider Anya Schmemann

Director, Editorial Strategy, Studies Program and Director, Task Force Program, Council on Foreign Relations

February 14, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

CFR 90th Anniversary Series on Renewing America: The Future of Energy

Speakers Michael 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
Presider Thomas WallinEditor in Chief, Energy Intelligence Group
June 8, 2011 5:30–6:00 p.m. - Reception
6:00–7:00 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

Energy Innovation in Brazil, China, and India: U.S. Policy Implications

Speakers 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, Shannon K. O'NeilDouglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Presider Irina A. FaskianosVice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
February 2, 2011

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

U.S. Options for Copenhagen

Speakers Frank 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
Presider Juliet EilperinNational Environment Reporter, Washington Post
November 10, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

China 2025: Panel Two: China Goes Global

Moderator Sheila A. SmithSenior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Panelists Evan 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
October 19, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting

The United States and the Future of Global Governance: Tackling Climate Change

Speakers Paula 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
Moderator Jessica T. MathewsPresident, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
May 7, 2009 - May 8, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ New York

On Nuclear Terrorism

Speaker Michael A. LeviFellow for Science and Technology, Council on Foreign Relations
Introductory Speaker Richard N. HaassPresident, Council on Foreign Relations
November 20, 2007 5:30–7:00 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing with informal remarks at 6:00 PM

This meeting is on the record.

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Meeting ⁄ Washington

Can Coal be Clean? The Promise of Climate Change Technology

Speakers Ernest 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)
Presider Michael A. LeviFellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
September 18, 2007 8:00–8:30 a.m. - Breakfast reception
8:30–9:30 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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Speakers Claudio Descalzi

Chief Executive Officer, Eni

, Daniel M. Price

Managing Director, Rock Creek Global Advisors; Former Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, White House

, Christine Todd Whitman

President, Whitman Strategy Group; Member, Board of Directors, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (2001-2003)


Presider Michael A. Levi

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

This meeting is not for attribution.

Press/Panels

Radio Interview

WNYC: The Power Surge as Weekend Reading

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."

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