About the Energy Security and Climate Change Program

About the Program

Climate change poses grave risks to humanity in the twenty first century; confronting it will require a massive transformation of the world’s energy systems. For now, fossil fuels still shape global geopolitics—swings in oil prices can fund proxy wars in the Middle East, spark maritime conflicts in the South China Sea, and undermine Russia’s government. Now that the United States has emerged as one of the world’s top oil and gas producers, thanks to the shale revolution, energy has emerged as a potent tool of foreign policy.

But the increasingly destructive impacts wrought by global climate change highlight the need to speed the transition toward clean sources of energy, like wind and solar power. These renewable energy sources are is growing rapidly and could substantially displace fossil fuels in coming decades, altering traditional power dynamics between energy producers and consumers. And a race is on to commercialize breakthrough technologies and seize the ballooning global market for advanced energy products—China is out to an early lead, but the United States can recover by investing heavily in innovation.

As the world turns toward clean energy to combat climate change, policymakers need to confront the fact that past emissions are already changing the climate. Recent years have seen record-setting heatwaves, raging wildfires, deepening droughts, damaging floods, and intensifying storms. Governments, businesses, and communities now confront the need to adapt to withstand the climate disruptions. Adaptation, along with mitigation, will enable countries to build resilience to the mounting threats. The program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations informs scientists, business leaders, policymakers, and the public about how to navigate this complex transition and what to expect from tomorrow’s energy and environment landscapes.