Energy and Environment

Foreign Affairs Article

The Clean Energy Revolution

Authors: Varun Sivaram and Teryn Norris

If the world is to avoid climate calamity, it needs to reduce its carbon emissions drastically by the middle of this century—a target that is simply out of reach with existing technology. Varun Sivaram and his co-author present the case for a massive investment in clean energy research and development to reach that goal. 

See more in Global; Renewable Energy


Instead of Cutting Waste, Nigeria Racks Up Debt to Replace Oil Revenues

Author: Matthew T. Page
World Politics Review

Last week, Nigeria’s Senate passed President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed 2016 budget, which projected a deficit of $15 billion due to falling oil prices. In an email interview, Matthew Page, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed the impact of falling oil prices on Nigeria’s economy and politics.

See more in Nigeria; Oil; Budget, Debt, and Deficits


Nigeria’s Reform of Its State Oil Company Will Be Cosmetic Without Cutting Corrupt Ties

Author: Matthew T. Page

or decades, Nigeria’s state oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been the leading symbol of official corruption and a seemingly boundless source of political patronage. Faced with plummeting global oil prices and dwindling state coffers, president Muhammadu Buhari cannot afford to allow the NNPC, under a veneer of reform, to operate much as it did before. 

See more in Nigeria; Oil

Primary Sources

U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released this statement on March 10, 2016. The leaders agreed to move forward on the Paris Agreement and support other international efforts to combat the effects of climate change. The joint statement also details U.S.-Canada cooperation on curbing emissions, integrating renewable energy into existing grids, and developing additional clean technologies.

See more in Americas; Arctic; Climate Change; Renewable Energy


Energy Prices and Crisis Risks

Author: Robert Kahn

Robert Kahn testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, describing the crisis risks generated by persistently low oil and gas prices. He argued that the risks are especially acute for energy exporters such as Venezuela and Nigeria, and that such countries need sizable policy adjustments in the immediate future.

See more in Americas; Global; Oil; Financial Crises


Falling Oil Prices, the Saudis, and the Soviets

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Wall Street Journal

With oil prices collapsing, Saudi Arabia is facing similar problems that the Soviet Union faced decades ago. Saudi policymakers’ economic reform strategies also echo those of  Mikhail Gorbachev. However, different from Gorbachev’s Soviet Union, Saud Arabia’s foreign policy is both confrontational and interventionist. Saudi seeks change, but hopes to keep it in bounds, and may want the world to remain a dangerous place.

See more in Saudi Arabia; Oil; Russian Federation


Reach for the Sun: How India’s Audacious Solar Ambitions Could Make or Break its Climate Commitments

Author: Varun Sivaram
Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

In this report, Varun Sivaram and co-authors argue that three very different segments of the Indian solar industry—utility-scale, distributed, and off-grid solar—will be required to deliver both climate results and domestic co-benefits to India. In addition, the Indian national and state governments, with the support of countries and institutions around the world, can advance the development of three diverse segments of the solar industry—utility-scale, distributed, and off-grid solar— by pursuing four building blocks of a successful solar strategy: (1) Reform the utility sector; (2) Harmonize federal and state policies; (3) Secure substantial and cost-effective financing; and (4) Foster the diffusion of technology and standards from abroad.

See more in India; Energy and Environment


Two Meetings That Can Shape Oil Markets

Authors: Michael A. Levi and Edward Morse

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.

See more in Global; Financial Markets; Energy and Environment