The Future of Energy, With Helima Croft

Helima Croft, managing director and head of global commodity strategy and Middle East and North Africa research at RBC Capital Markets, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss trends in the energy world.

December 7, 2021 — 32:17 min
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Host

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Episode Guests

Helima Croft

Show Notes

Helima Croft, managing director and head of global commodity strategy and Middle East and North Africa research at RBC Capital Markets, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss trends in the energy world.

 

Relevant Articles of Interest

 

Jason Bordoff and Meghan L. O’Sullivan, “Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy,” Foreign Affairs (January/February 2022)

 

Robinson Meyer, “The Energy Crunch, in Six Paragraphs,” The Atlantic, October 13, 2021

 

Daniel Yergin, “Why the Energy Transition Will Be So Complicated,” The Atlantic, November 27, 2021

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Transcript

Jim Lindsay:

Hi, podcast listeners. Want to keep up on with what's happening at home and abroad? Check out the podcast, Axios Today. It's a daily news show covering the biggest stories and why they matter. Every morning, host Niala Boodhoo talks to Axios journalists around the country and experts around the world to give you what you need to know to start your day. They cover everything from politics to space, to race and justice. All in just 10 minutes. Listen to Axios Today, wherever you get your podcasts.

Jim Lindsay:

Welcome to The President's Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is, the future of energy. With me to discuss trends in the energy world is Helima Croft. Helima is a Managing Director and the Head of Global Commodity Strategy in Middle East and North Africa Research at RBC Capital Markets. She is also a member of the National Petroleum Council, an advisory group to the Secretary of Energy, and a contributor at CNBC. From 2004 to 2005, Helima was an intelligence fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations on leave from the Central Intelligence Agency. Helima, thanks for sitting down and chatting with me.

Helima Croft:

It's so great to see you, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, we have a very visual podcast as you know, [crosstalk 00:01:23] Helima.

Helima Croft:

Yes.

Jim Lindsay:

There's a lot I want to talk about because you're a go-to person on these topics, but I think maybe where we would start out is with, why are gasoline prices so high? I was in California last month, in Los Angeles, gasoline prices were nearing $5 a gallon in some places, even higher than that. Back here on the East Coast, gasoline prices are a mid $3 range. I'm told that gasoline prices in the United States are now at is seven year high. What gives?

Helima Croft:

I mean, we've had a number of factors. Particularly on the west coast, you're dealing with some vagrancies of the local market, local taxes on gasoline, but we've had a significant run up in oil prices this year. We've had the reopening of markets around the world. We've had OPEC countries being very disciplined in how they bring supply back onto the market. There's some other issues that uniquely affect gasoline like refinery closures as well. And that has created a real challenge for the Biden administration, which has been very focused on combating climate change while now having to deal with these inflationary issues that really affect U.S. consumers and the toolkit they can go to in trying to lower gasoline prices has been to make an appeal to OPEC nations, to put more barrels on the market.

Helima Croft:

That really came to a head when we've had this recent OPEC meeting where the administration really made a personal appeal to Saudi Arabia to continue adding more barrels onto the market. They also released oil from the strategic petroleum reserve in conjunction with a number of consuming nations, China, India, Japan. But it's really been a test of energy diplomacy to try to bring down these prices.

Jim Lindsay:

Okay, there's a lot there so let's take it piece by piece, and let's begin with the OPEC question. President Biden made an appeal to OPEC, Saudi Arabia in particular to open up the production tap. My understanding is, is that the initial Saudi reaction was not to say yes, happy to do it. It was more to leave the White House twisting in the wind. So what is happening on that front?

Helima Croft:

Since the summer we've had the administration making these appeals to OPEC. Jake Sullivan in August, came out asking for more OPEC barrels. I think that the Saudi position was, look we are adding barrels back onto the market. We are doing so in a constructive or cautious manner because we've just come out of the greatest demand shock in history. We don't want to oversupply this market. We're concerned about COVID variants. Potentially in the background, they may have wanted a direct appeal from President Biden to the Saudi crown prince, asking him for assistance as opposed to just going through lieutenants. But up till now, the Saudis have been really cautious. And I do think that the release of barrels from strategic petroleum reserve was designed to try to get OPEC, to do the job for them, in terms of putting more barrels on the market.

Helima Croft:

We actually saw precedent for this to some extent in 2011, during the Arab Spring, when we lost Libyan production. The U.S. working through the IEA released barrels onto the market and some people said the real purpose of that was to get Saudi Arabia to quickly honor their commitments to backfill that Libyan outage. So I do think that part of this effort with the SPR was to try to get OPEC to be more forthcoming with their barrels.

Jim Lindsay:

I'm curious, Helima, on the specific issue of Saudi Arabia, to what extent do you think personal animosity factored into this? I will note that at the beginning of the Biden presidency, President Biden talked about recalibrating relations with Saudi Arabia and the White House essentially treated crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman as a persona non grata. Obviously in the world, in world politics things can change pretty quickly. Now MBS and Saudi Arabia is in demand. Is that potentially part of the reason why Saudi Arabia is not inclined to move quickly?

Helima Croft:

I mean, do I think that the Saudi crown prince probably would've liked the personal request from President Biden? I mean, I suspect he would. Certainly President Trump would make personal request to the Saudi crown prince when he wanted help on oil. I do think though, if you look at the Saudi-U.S. relationship under the Biden administration, I mean, John Kerry has made multiple visits to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is participating in this net zero producers forum. You've had, Jake Sullivan visit Saudi Arabia. So they're not entirely in the penalty box. There has been a number of visits from senior U.S. officials to the kingdom. So I do think it's actually a more pragmatic approach to dealing with Saudi Arabia than some of the campaign rhetoric would've led us to believe.

Helima Croft:

I do think on this issue though, with this OPEC meeting, because it's not at all obvious given what's happened with this new COVID variant, we've had a very sharp sell off in oil prices. It's not obvious that OPEC necessarily, from a market standpoint should have gone forward with putting additional supply on the market right now. They have a mechanism to pause their production increases. It seemed to be a very valid case to use that pause mechanism. And I do think having that personal visit from the senior U.S. officials in the office of the Saudi oil minister, who also happens to be a member of the Royal family, the half brother of the crown prince, I do think that personal appeal and the really, the public pronouncements that were made by these us officials in the region about the importance of partnership with these Gulf countries, I think that was really essential to getting Saudi Arabia to do this.

Helima Croft:

Because again, just looking at market conditions, putting more barrels on the market right now, given we just had this announcement of an SPR release, we have an uncertain demand outlook because of this new COVID variant. I do think it required pretty deaf diplomacy to get the Saudis to do this.

Jim Lindsay:

Tell me a little bit more about this release from the strategic petroleum reserve. Is it significant that this release was coordinated with other major consuming countries? And do you expect the release of oil from the SPR to have any significant or sustained effect on overall energy markets?

Helima Croft:

I do think it's important that this was a coordinated release with key Asian consuming countries. You've had, China did their own your release in September, it was an oil release, but also releases of other key commodities because China's been very concerned about this run up in commodity prices. But to have it be with China, India, Japan, Korea, that was, I think, very important. And some people can say, well, the magnitude that we're talking about coordinated, 65 to 70 million is not that large. I do think it's important from a signaling standpoint that these consuming countries are willing to go into the market to try to impact price because previously we've had SPR releases when they're disruptions to U.S. refineries because of hurricanes. In the case of the 2011 release with the Arab Spring, there was a clear supply disruption from Libya. Right now there is no supply disruption, they're clearly targeting price.

Helima Croft:

And that's a new evolution in the use of the SPR, at least the justification for the use. And I think it did send a signal to these OPEC countries that kind of, either you or me situation. I think it was important as well that the U.S. officials said, "Look, we have an exchange mechanism whereby which significant portions of these barrels are through an exchange, what we put back into the SPR, so we can release again." And I do think the fact that they signaled, they would release again, was important in the negotiations with some of these oil producing countries.

Jim Lindsay:

What do you make of complaints that have come from American oil producers that what the Biden administration should be doing is not going to Riyadh and asking for the Saudis to do more, but to take steps here at home in the United States to increase oil production. After all the United States is at the top of the list of oil producers because of revolutions in energy and drilling technology and the rest.

Helima Croft:

That's a great question, Jim. I was just at the ADIPEC conference in Abu Dhabi and Vicky Hollow, the CEO of Occidental essentially said, "Look, we'd prefer you to make a local call as opposed to a long distance call when you want help to deal with prices." I do think though, there's always been this issue that if you need barrels quickly, shale is not Superman. You really do need to call the countries that sit on spare capacity. And even during the Trump administration, when there was all this talk of American energy dominance and real support for the U.S. oil and gas industry, when he needed barrels, when he exited the Iranian nuclear agreement in 2018 and thought the market was going to be tight, he still called Saudi Arabia. And every time he had to call Saudi Arabia for barrels meant that there were limits to what shale could do in terms of dealing with price in the near term.

Helima Croft:

And I do think one of the issues that is really facing shale companies going forward is, is just the change in terms of appetite for investors to invest in these companies. There's a much bigger focus on ESG mandates. They want more capital discipline from these companies. And so I do think one of the dynamics that shale companies is facing is just what investors are willing to fund right now. And they are facing a landscape where if you're competing with national oil companies in the middle east, they're going to continue to invest. They don't face the same pressure from shareholders. They don't face the same type of government regulatory pressures because of concerns about climate.

Helima Croft:

We are looking at a situation where I would say the middle Eastern producers in the Gulf are going to have greater and greater power in this market and that really doesn't come down to what Biden is doing or not doing. That comes down to investor sentiment, what we're thinking about in terms of climate initiatives, it's going to be these Gulf producers that are going to remain dominant players.

Jim Lindsay:

And I assume that doing things like opening up public lands for more drilling or giving licenses or permits for offshore drilling, those are things that couldn't bring oil to market in any significant amounts for years.

Helima Croft:

No, this is not what can impact the price tomorrow or next week or the next month. I mean, again, the story of shale growth was a remarkable story, but we're still, not at the peaks in terms of shale production. I mean, we're not back to the levels that we saw in 2019, is a question of when we will ever get back to those levels.

Jim Lindsay:

You noted at the start, Helima, that there's an irony in the Biden administration going to OPEC and asking for OPEC to produce more oil because the Joe Biden administration is committed to this so-called energy transition to get us away from fossil fuels, to embrace renewable energy, to combat climate change. So why doesn't the White House simply allow the market to work its magic? If prices go up, what that will do is discourage consumption. It will make renewables more attractive and presumably propel us toward this fossil fuel free future.

Helima Croft:

I assume there are people in the Biden administration who would say that is the correct argument to be making, but I do think you hit the political realities of the fact that we've had this run up in gasoline prices. It is hurting consumers and the Biden administration has a challenge. Yes, they want to focus or push forward the transition to renewables. There's going to be this gap in terms of dealing with issues of intermittency, in terms of, what do you do over the next decade when you cannot be powered by renewables a 100%, when you can't deal with these issues on transportation right now through renewables.

Helima Croft:

And so you need to have enough of the traditional fossil fuels to keep the lights on, to keep people driving their cars till you can get to that state where you do have renewables being the dominant player. I think we're in this challenging period whereby which they want to ensure they have enough stable supply of conventional fossil fuels while at the same time, trying to set up a situation where soon we can transition from this reliance, but right now they need the supply.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let me put my parochial perspective as aside for the moment, Helima, and note the fact that we're seeing energy shortages and rising energy prices in places besides the United States.

Helima Croft:

Oh yes.

Jim Lindsay:

I will say it's a global issue, but I'm particularly struck by what has been happening in Europe, where prices have been spiking in part, I take it, because of a shortage of coal, also a shortage of natural gas, something that has had knock-on effects. Could you sort of explain the situation Europe right now and maybe give us a little bit of a sense of what those ripple effects might be?

Helima Croft:

I mean, Jim, if we weren't talking about this COVID variant, if we were just, go back a couple weeks we'd be talking about a potential serious energy crisis because we've had this sort of perfect storm in Europe, also in Asia as well, whereby which stocks for natural gas are running at historic lows. We don't have an SPR for natural gas. You had an unseasonably cold winter in Asia that drew natural gas supplies into Asia. You've had several producers facing supply challenges. You've had problems with renewables as well. Hydro was experiencing challenges. You've had problems with wind, forcing a greater reliance on natural gas, coal, and you've had issues in terms of potential politics around this as well.

Helima Croft:

Russia is the largest gas supplier into Europe. Russian companies, like many energy companies during the COVID downturn cut their operating budgets. So there are questions about how much additional supply in a company like Gazprom bring to the market if there is a greater demand pull, but then there are questions about, was the Russian government withholding supplies into Europe to try to force the German regulator to quickly approve Nord Stream 2. So there are these real question marks of, even if Nord Stream 2 are approved tomorrow, does Russia have enough gas on hand? And yes, the U.S. has become a major gas exporter, but we're limited in terms of how much additional supply we can bring on because of infrastructure. And our gas is contracted already to places and other producers as well.

Helima Croft:

You hosted an event with the Qatari foreign minister and Qatar supplies are already contracted into Asia. And so we are still very concerned about what would happen in a cold winter. Will there be enough supply on hand? Will European governments have to decide between providing power to consumers or to energy intensive industries? There's a larger question about if European consumers cannot afford to keep the light on, will there be a revolt against renewables? That is a real concern of, could there be a populous backlash against renewables if consumers struggle with energy access? This is still a very pressing issue. We will see what happens with winter, but it remains a real concern for these governments.

Jim Lindsay:

A lot there, Helima, you mentioned the R word, Russia, and raised the question of whether or not the Russian government is manipulating the provision of natural gas to gain a geopolitical advantage. So I'll put the question to you, is that what the Kremlin's doing?

Helima Croft:

Well, I certainly think that the Russians never let a good crisis go to waste. I do think there are legitimate questions about how much additional supply the Russians could bring to the market in the event of a really, really cold winter. But nonetheless, Vladimir Putin has said on a number of occasions, if Nord Stream 2 were approved, we would not be having these problems. He has indicated that he has ordered the companies to step up supply into Europe. We will see if it's additional incremental supply, whether it's supply that's going to be rerouted from other pipelines. But one thing is for sure, Europe remains as dependent as ever on these Russian supplies.

Helima Croft:

I think about Russia really, as the energy superstore. They have, what the world wants in terms of conventional fossil fuels. I mean, it's not just natural gas, they have coal as well. They sit at the leadership table at OPEC plus as well. I think that is a remarkable story that you now have this sovereign producer group being co-managed by Russia as well. So I think that their position in energy markets is stronger than ever.

Jim Lindsay:

I want to get to that geopolitical angle in a minute, Helima, but first I want to have you spell a little bit more for us about pipeline politics. You mentioned Nord Stream 2. This is a new pipeline that we'd go from Russia directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea. And it would supplement, some people worry, replace an existing set of pipelines, which go through Ukraine. Obviously in recent weeks, the Russians have been putting pressure on Ukraine by building up military forces in the region. There also seems to be less natural gas flowing through the Ukrainian pipeline that flowed through that pipeline, same time last year. How do you think about that pipeline politics issue?

Helima Croft:

First of all, the Russians would say they are meeting all of their contractual obligations to consumers. What they have been accused of is not going beyond their contractual obligations and not sort of stepping up and meeting demand. But again, they consistently say we're meeting our contractual obligations. I think what's very interesting about Nord Stream 2 is that this is something where there was tremendous congressional support to sanction Nord Stream 2 and try to block its completion because it was seen as a Russian influence play, an effort to economically strangle Ukraine, because it bypasses Ukraine, deny them transit revenue.

Helima Croft:

And when President Biden came into office, it looked like he would continue to follow a tough line on Nord Stream 2, but he made a decision in the spring not to essentially apply the sanctions that Congress passed to essentially penalize contractors working to complete Nord Stream 2. The Germans were very clear that they wanted this project to go forward. It was very important to Angela Merkel. And so the Biden administration has said, essentially it's a fait accompli. What's happened now is the German regulator has not approved Nord Stream 2. Their issues about third party access, all these issues that need to be resolved and so that is the interesting question is whether the Kremlin is using this crisis to try to force the hand of the German regulator.

Helima Croft:

But obviously we're watching the situation very closely with this troop buildup on the border. If you did have a Russian formal invasion of Ukraine, you would likely to see immediate sanctions on Russian corporates, think back to what happened before. I do think this issue of pipeline politics, supply potentially being withheld and retaliation for sanctions that would definitely have to be watched. And I do think it could make it a very tough situation for European consumers if it were to play out that way.

Jim Lindsay:

Helima, Germany is getting a new government with Chancellor Schultz coming to office likely sometime next week. I will note that the coalition document that was put out just before Thanksgiving skirted over the issue of Nord Stream 2, didn't say what the government's position would be on it. And I will note that Schultz was the vice chancellor in the previous government, Angela Merkel's coalition, which championed Nord Stream 2. Do you expect Germany to take a different position on the pipeline? Because it's getting a lot of pressure, not just from Washington, but from other capitals in Europe about the consequences of opening up Nord Stream 2.

Helima Croft:

I think what's interesting is, is that because they're potentially facing this real shortage of natural gas into Europe, I do think Russia sort of leverage points are stronger. I think also the German government is very clear they don't support nuclear. And so in terms of their options set, I think that there's still, I don't see a real shift brewing yet in terms of their view on Nord Stream 2. Obviously it'd be worth watching. I mean, it's not a project that the green support in Germany, but this is something when they think about their own energy security needs, know they basically made the decision to shut down nuclear after what happened at Fukushima. That has been a reason why they've really been focused on natural gas.

Jim Lindsay:

What do you make of arguments, Helima, that part of the problem that Europe is facing now with its energy shortage is a product of Europe's efforts to transition to lower carbon footprint. In particular a number of countries have moved away from relying on coal to run power plants. I think Britain has been in the lead there. Now of course that means you rely more on natural gas, but if natural gas is not available, you're kind of stuck in terms of energy generation. To what extent is this really a problem of transition?

Helima Croft:

I do think this is raising issues about what kind of strategic stock policy you need on hand until you can get to this point where you can talk about renewables being the dominant source for energy. I think, one of the big issues is again with natural gas, we don't have large strategic stock piles of natural gas. It's expensive, it's technically challenging, but I think this issue that we're seeing in Europe right now, and again, we're seeing it in China as well. China essentially came out and said, a couple months ago, we're having an energy crisis. We need all forms of energy.

Helima Croft:

I do think it's going to put more reliance on building stockpiles to deal with these periods of shortage in order to keep consumers supporting the transition. I mean the worst outcome, I think, for European governments would be to have a revival of the yellow jackets movement where people basically are complaining about high energy prices.

Jim Lindsay:

So let's turn to geopolitics. I know it's one of your favorite topics. What does the new energy landscape mean for geopolitics? Who are the winners, who are the losers?

Helima Croft:

Well, I think there could be really interesting politics around dependency. One of the great things I did young in my career was I was on- [crosstalk 00:22:51].

Jim Lindsay:

You're still young, Helima.

Helima Croft:

I was on the CFR task force on energy and national security and it talked about the politics of dependency. And I do think what's going to be interesting is, as we think about producers of, for example, critical minerals. Now will countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the world's largest cobalt producer, will they gain more outsized importance as we talk about the electrification of everything? I would be watching for so that these new producer states to potentially gain more power. I think China's position is going to be fascinating because China dominates the whole supply chain for renewables. China's position could certainly be enhanced in this transition story.

Helima Croft:

I think everyone is focused on what happens to the traditional hydrocarbon producers. What happens to the Saudi Arabias? I think the Saudis and the Emirates and the Kuwaitis, these low cost, low emissions oil producers. I think they think that they are actually, have the wind at their backs in the sense that you're still going to need oil. Even if demand shrinks, they're going to be the dominant player and they're using their sovereign wealth funds to invest in a lot of the technology for renewables as well. And they believe that they have very good economics for important transition fuels like hydrogen.

Helima Croft:

I think the Gulf states feel like they're in a better position than many people thought a year ago when we were talking about peak demand. But then there are these African oil producers, Latin American oil producers that are higher cost, that were facing economic challenges, even when oil was a $100. And I think they're going to be the one, I worry about how a Nigeria fairs in a more rapid energy transition scenario. So I do think they're going to be real winners and losers, and some of them are not obvious winners and losers, but I do think again, winners in near term will be these critical mineral producers. I think the Gulf states hang in there and it's these challenged oil producers who face economic and security and political problems. They're going to be the ones that are going to face the toughest reckoning in a transition.

Jim Lindsay:

Let's talk a bit about China. You note that China potentially may benefit from the energy transition because of the assumption the China will succeed in dominating many of the technologies and the manufacturing of green products and green energy sources. On the other hand, China is, I think it's safe to say, energy poor. It relies on the import of a lot of the energy it needs to run its economy. In particular, coal. How does China adapt to a world in which energy might be in short supply?

Jim Lindsay:

My sense is that when energy prices spiked in Europe, one of the consequences was that it had a ripple effect, it drove up prices in China that led the Chinese government to ration energy. That meant companies had to shut down or limit production, which means things that were supposed to get built, didn't get built and that has ripple effects to the supply chain.

Helima Croft:

I mean, we talk about what happened, China was the first, it was really when we think about this energy situation and natural gas that unfolded. Again, the first real demand pull for LNG cargo was into Asia because of a cold winter scenario. And even in the case of China, they had problems with hydro as well, not performing well and so you had more demand for gas for replacement as well. And I do think this is the line the Chinese have to walk as well. They are focused on their climate goals. You could say some of it for national security reasons as well, dealing with pollution issues. But at the same time, as you noted, they are dependent still on oil, coal, natural gas that raise whole sorts of issues in the climate negotiations at COP26, in terms of how rapid you were going to phase out coal.

Helima Croft:

But that's also the reason why, when we think about the SPR release, why I think it is really notable that China participated as well. It's a reflection to the fact that China very much wants to keep inflation in check. They want to keep commodity prices in check. If that means cooperating with the United States on a release of stockpiles, they'll do it.

Jim Lindsay:

So when you were talking about winners and losers, one country I did not hear you mention was the United States. How do you see the United States handling this energy transition?

Helima Croft:

I think it's clearly a really important goal for this administration. I think that building a political coalition around policies is very challenging. Having to get, we've seen the challenges in terms of the congressional effort to get these initiatives supported. I think there's things you can do through regulation, through the procurement process, but there are these real issues with Congress and building political will around support for these policies. I certainly think what we saw with the issues of sort of wildfires in California, what we saw in Texas with the arctic cold conditions and people sort of blaming renewables for failing, almost everything failed in Texas then.

Helima Croft:

But I do think these debates over energy access are going to continue as well. These debates we see in Europe, we're seeing them here. I think that's a challenge for policy makers. Certainly I think this issue around natural gas is an unsettled issue in terms of what is the role for natural gas in this transition. And we saw a real debate with the California wildfires over, do you need a greater reliance on natural gas to deal with issues of intermittency? So I think all of these issues are still being debated and it's not an easy policy process.

Jim Lindsay:

There was a lot of talk, Helima, that the infrastructure bill that passed recently made a down payment on this transition to a more climate friendly energy infrastructure. Is that really the case?

Helima Croft:

I think it was important signaling. I do think, again, there are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved in terms of paying for it. One of the big issues, I think it's very difficult for the administration to push politically and for Congress to support is this issue of a carbon tax. Can you really reach these overall goals that putting a price on carbon? And I think that is something that politicians here want to avoid that conversation. Other countries view it as an essential, other corporates view it as essential to reaching these net zero goals. There are these things that still have to be very much resolved.

Jim Lindsay:

It's hard for me to see this administration or any other administration embracing a carbon tax when if the market increases the price of carbon, the administration's reaction is to try to find ways to countermand it.

Helima Croft:

No, I mean, again, this is, all these issues about the pathway to net zero. It is not going to be a smooth line. And I do think as well, it's part of the reason why you have a lot of conversation about being bailed out by a technology that hasn't even been developed yet. A lot of conversation is in order to meet these goals, we still need some type of technological breakthrough that's not here yet.

Jim Lindsay:

Let's close in that point then, Helima, to what extent do you think a technological solution is around the corner? I've heard talk about deflecting radiation back into space. I've also heard talk about carbon capture. I know Iceland just opened up a plant, which is designed to essentially suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and inject a deep underground. It's a small pilot project. It's not going to solve anything time soon, but how realistic is it that we can get a technological fix to a very big problem?

Helima Croft:

I certainly think we will need a technological fix, but one of the real initiatives that I think bears very close watching is around CCUS. That is carbon capture utilization in storage. If you want to look at where there is the sort of bipartisan support on funding, carbon capture is where there is seemingly this consensus from Republicans and Democrats in terms of a really important initiative that they can get behind and so to end on a positive note, when we talked about everything in terms of congressional gridlock, I do think CCUS represents an area where there is bipartisan support to try to tackle climate change.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, Helima, you have always been the most upbeat, optimistic person I know, and I'm glad you have had us end on an optimistic note. And on that point, I'm going to close up the President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Helima Croft, managing director and the head of global commodity strategy in Middle East and North Africa research at RBC capital markets. Helima, a pleasure to chat.

Helima Croft:

Thank you for having me, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Please subscribe to The President's Inbox in Apple podcast, Spotify or if you listen, leave us a review, they help us get noticed and improve the show. You can find articles on this topic on the podcast page for The President's Inbox on cfr.org. As always opinions expressed on The President's Inbox are solely those of the host or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis with senior producer, Jeremy Sherlick. Zoe did double duty as our recording engineer. Thanks as always Zoe. Special thanks to Dr. Margaret Gach for her assistance. This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.

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Ambassador Mark Lippert, vice chairman of the Halifax Forum and senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies Korea Chair, sits down with Jam...

Ambassador Mark Lippert, vice chairman of the Halifax Forum and senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies Korea Chair, sits down with Jam...

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Sophia Besch, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the current state of transatlantic relations and w...

Sophia Besch, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the current state of transatlantic relations and w...

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Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the trilateral security agreement that Australia, t...

Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the trilateral security agreement that Australia, t...

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