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 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.
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.
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.
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.
As supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership try to round up backers, they increasingly emphasise the geopolitical case for concluding a deal. But too often they overstate the case—and, in doing so, generate real geopolitical risks of their own, while also jeopardising the agreement they seek.
After three years of unusual stability around $100 a barrel, oil prices fell steeply in the second half of 2014, dropping from $115 a barrel in June to around $60 by December. With oil critical to national economies, international security and climate change, what does the apparent new world of oil mean?
U.S. policymakers who worry about the impact of energy developments on geopolitics typically think of high oil prices as bad news and low prices as an unalloyed good. But a sustained drop in oil prices can be dangerous as well. This paper investigates Mexican vulnerability to falling oil prices—and spillovers to the United States—to show how troublesome such a development might be.
The recent oil price crash came as a surprise to many observers due to several critical misconceptions about oil markets, writes Michael Levi. As for prices going forward, “only the reckless would bet with any confidence on one particular outcome.”
The Wall Street Journal asks Michael Levi and Andrew P. Morriss whether the U.S. should act unilaterally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Levi answers “yes,” arguing that cutting greenhouse gas emissions now would enhance public health and the international credibility of the United States, and that reasonable action now would reduce long-term costs.
The recent U.S.-China climate deal has inspired both celebration and skepticism. Michael Levi responds to each, noting that while the terms of the agreement are in themselves insufficient to reign in global warming, the deal is a “genuine success” as diplomatic progress toward reducing climate risk.
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.
As oil prices continue to drop, Michael Levi argues that the benefit to American consumers will outweigh any damage to the U.S. economy. However, how you view this plunge in oil prices "depends a lot on where you live and what work you do."
World leaders gathered at a United Nations summit to kick off 15 months of negotiations aimed at finalizing a climate pact next December in Paris. Michael Levi argues that domestic policies rather than international climate talks will determine the fate of global efforts to tackle climate change.
The China National Overseas Oil Coorporation (CNOOC) began drilling in Vietnamese-claimed waters late last week, accompanied by more than seventy vessels, including armed Chinese warships.Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi write that the United States needs to face up to the full magnitude of the Chinese challenge to have any hope of successfully confronting it.
Though strategists have long feared that China's quest for natural resources would lead to ever-higher prices, a breakdown in trade, and perhaps even wars, Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi write that a stunning WTO rebuke of Chinese exports restrictions shows that the global system is far more resilient than the worriers have claimed.
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.
Though calls are mounting for the United States to help free Europe from Russian influence by exporting shale gas, Michael Levi writes the most useful thing that Europe could import is not American gas itself but the open economic model that has enabled the U.S. natural gas industry to thrive.
Panelists:Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, Paolo Scaroni, Chief Executive Officer, Eni; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisors, Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and Chief Executive Office, TOTAL S.A.; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisers Presider:David M. Rubenstein, Cofounder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, CFR Global Board of Advisers
Panelists:David M. Rubenstein, Cofounder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, The Carlyle Group; Vice Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Chair, CFR Global Board of Advisers, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, Paolo Scaroni, Chief Executive Officer, Eni; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisors, Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, TOTAL S.A.; Member, CFR Global Board of Advisers
CFR 90th Anniversary Series on Renewing America: The Future of Energy
Speakers:David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy, William F. Martin, Chairman, Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Energy; Former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations Presider:Thomas Wallin, Editor in Chief, Energy Intelligence Group
Energy Innovation in Brazil, China, and India: U.S. Policy Implications
Speakers: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, Shannon K. O'Neil, Douglas Dillon Fellow for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations Presider:Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
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:Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
Speakers:Daniel M. Price, Senior Partner for Global Issues, Sidley Austin, LLP, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, CFR, Frank E. Loy, Chair, Board of Directors, PSI Presider:Juliet Eilperin, National Environment Reporter, Washington Post
Panelists:David H. Shinn, Adjunct Professor, George Washington University, Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China 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, Evan A. Feigenbaum, Senior Fellow for East, Central, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations Moderator:Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
The United States and the Future of Global Governance: Tackling Climate Change
Speakers:William John Antholis, Managing Director, The Brookings Institution, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior International Affairs and Trade Advisor, Baker & Hostetler LLP and former Under Secretary, Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State Moderator:Jessica T. Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Symposium on the U.S.-Japan Partnership, Session One: Global Transformations and the U.S.-Japan Partnership
Panelists:Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations, Tanaka Akihiko, Professor of International Politics, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies and Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo Presider:Funabashi Yoichi, Editor-in-Chief, Asahi Shimbun Introductory Speaker:Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
CFR Symposium: The International and the Domestic - Latin America and U.S. Policies and Politics, Session Three
Panelists:Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, David J. Rothkopf, President and CEO, Garten Rothkopf Moderator:Steven Mufson, Energy Correspondent, Washington Post
Confronting Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Policy
Speaker:Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment, Council on Foreign Relations Presider:Terry Moran, Anchor, Nightline, ABC News Chairs:Thomas J. Vilsack, Of Counsel, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, George E. Pataki, Counsel, Chadbourne & Parke LLP
Speaker:Michael A. Levi, Fellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, On Nuclear Terrorism, Council on Foreign Relations Presider:Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
Can Coal be Clean? The Promise of Climate Change Technology
Speakers:Ernest J. Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, Director, MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rick Boucher, Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-VA) Presider:Michael A. Levi, Fellow for Science and Technology and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations Workshop: American Nuclear Energy in a Globalized Economy, Session III: Can Nuclear Energy Go Beyond the Energy Policy Act of 2005?
Speakers:Daniel Rosenblum, Co-Director, Carbon Tax Center, Angelina Howard, Vice President, Nuclear Energy Institute, Ruth Greenspan Bell, Director, IIDEA, Resources For the Future Presider:Michael A. Levi, Fellow for Science and Technology, Council on Foreign Relations Introductory Speaker:Charles Ferguson, Fellow for Science and Technology, Council on Foreign Relations
June 14, 2007 - June 15, 200711:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m. () - June 15, 2007
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.