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.
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
Taxes on oil consumption have long been a legislative third rail, yet concerns about the national debt may soon change that political calculus. Daniel Ahn and Michael Levi demonstrate that energy taxes can reduce the national debt and improve economic performance, all while reducing U.S. oil consumption.
See more in United States; Oil; Tax Policy
CFR Senior Fellow Michael Levi reviews possible states of the Iranian nuclear program, evaluating the range of policy outcomes in order to better guide decisions on strategy.
See more in Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation; Iran
This study examines low-carbon technology innovation and absorption in China, India, and Brazil. It recommends a course for U.S. policy that promotes accelerated innovation and adoption of new technologies while protecting U.S. commercial interests.
See more in India; Brazil; Energy Policy; Innovation
What is energy security? On April 12-13, the Council on Foreign Relations convened academics, policymakers, and industry experts to assess the security implications of the way the world produces and consumes oil and natural gas. The workshop aimed to explore important issues at the intersection of oil, gas, and national security, and identify areas for future research. The first day focused on assessing the state of knowledge on energy and security, while the second explored U.S. policy options going forward. This summary report presents a broad agenda for energy security research that emerged from the meeting.
See more in United States; Energy Policy
Most discussions about using international institutions to address climate change focus narrowly on the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, many other international institutions also have a significant role to play in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. This paper examines the existing climate-related efforts and capabilities, as well as the future potential, of a variety of international institutions, including those that deal with environment, energy, and economics. While there are still major shortfalls, the paper argues that there is significant existing institutional capacity to draw from in addressing climate change.
See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Climate Change
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is not just a problem to clean up, says CFR's Michael Levi, it has serious commercial implications for some oil firms and has dimmed the prospects of U.S. climate legislation.
See more in United States; Oil; Disasters
Michael Levi, CFR fellow for science and technology, says the next president needs a strong domestic approach to climate change to be credible internationally.
See more in Climate Change; United States; Elections
CFR Fellow for Science and Technology Michael A. Levi discusses his new book, On Nuclear Terrorism, which highlights many of the obstacles potential nuclear terrorists face.
See more in United States; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Terrorism
Michael Levi speaks with cfr.org's Eben Kaplan about the consequences of nuclear terrorism on U.S. soil.
See more in United States; Weapons of Mass Destruction
Against the backdrop of increasing attention to climate change in the presidential campaigns, debate of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill in the Senate, and preparations for this summer's G8 summit, this report recommends an overhaul of U.S. domestic and foreign policy to confront the challenges of climate change.
See more in Climate Change; United States
In this book, CFR Senior Fellow Michael A. Levi examines one of the greatest national security threats of our time—terrorist groups armed with nuclear weapons—and argues that only a broad-based and multi-layered defense can be effective in confronting it. Teaching notes by the author.
See more in Defense Strategy; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Global
In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Michael A. Levi argues that as the crisis in Ukraine continues and the United States seeks new leverage against Russia, the United States should allow energy exports but be modest about what they can accomplish.
See more in North America; Energy and Environment
In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Michael A. Levi discusses the geopolitical consequences of a Department of Energy decision on liquid natural gas exports; the geopolitical consequences of exports themselves; and steps that the United States could take domestically to increase support for liquid natural gas exports.
See more in United States; Natural Gas
In his testimony before the House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Michael A. Levi explains how partnerships with Canada and Mexico can help the United States to effectively pursue energy-related goals.
Michael A. Levi testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the state of global efforts to combat climate change, prospects for the ongoing United Nations climate negotiations, and climate policy in Europe and India.
See more in Climate Change; India; United States
See more in Homeland Security; Weapons of Mass Destruction; Technology and Foreign Policy
As the recovery from hurricane Sandy gets under way, CFR's Michael A. Levi highlights three policy takeaways from the storm.
See more in Disasters; Climate Change
The talks between Iranian and IAEA officials will focus on potential inspections at the Parchin military base, and the outcome will influence upcoming P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran in Moscow, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Iran; Proliferation
The winner of the U.S. presidential election will face at least three sets of climate challenges including reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, facing international pressure, and developing climate-friendly technology, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Elections
The winner of the presidential election will face at least three sets of energy challenges: continuing to reduce oil dependence, increasing U.S. supplies sustainably, and addressing acute crises such as supply disruptions, says CFR's Michael Levi.
See more in Elections; Energy Policy; United States