Rachel Ansley

  • ‘We’re Not Going Back from a Low-Carbon Future’

    Former US officials criticize Trump’s decision to quit Paris climate deal

    While US President Donald J. Trump predicated his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord on the protection and restoration of US coal jobs, clean energy technology is not only the most effective, but an essential path toward improving the economy and fighting climate change, according to former US energy and environment officials.

    “We’re not going back from a low-carbon future,” Ernest Moniz, who served as US secretary of energy under former US President Barack Obama, said at the Atlantic Council’s Tipping Points conference on June 21-22, hosted by the Millennium Leadership Program. “The clean energy global economy is going to be a multi-trillion-dollar economy,” he added.

    “We have shown that you can have a clean and green environment, make environmental progress, and have our economy grow,” said Christine Todd Whitman, who served as Environmental Protection Agency...

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  • BP Study Finds Sharp Decline in Global Demand for Coal

    Even as US President Donald J. Trump touts the creation of coal jobs, 2016 energy trends indicate a sharp decline in the demand for coal worldwide, according to Spencer Dale, group chief economist at BP.

    Overall, according to Dale, these energy trends also indicate a plateau in carbon emissions. In fact, he added, despite Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord—a pact aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions—carbon emissions will steadily decrease thanks to strides made in the developing world toward renewable energy technologies.

    The United States’ role in Paris was primarily one of leadership, “galvanizing the international community and bringing them to the table,” said Dale. While Washington’s decision to back away from that role will not have a major impact on the fight against climate change in...

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  • The United States and Iran: Future Tense

    Washington’s increased pressure on Tehran and a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East have created an “incredibly unpredictable” political playing field between two longstanding adversaries, according to a regional analyst.

    “You can posit an array of catastrophic scenarios given the pace and intensity of frictions… between Iran, the United States, and other players,” said Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. “The prospects of moving quickly up an escalatory ladder between the United States and Iran is extremely high.”

    According to Amir Handjani, an Atlantic Council board member and senior fellow with the Council’s South Asia Center, recent events in the Middle East have further contributed to Washington and Tehran’s “very dangerous” perception of each other as destabilizing forces in the region.

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  • Ford ‘Disappointed’ by Trump’s Decision to Quit Paris Climate Deal

    While Ford Motor Company is “disappointed” by US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, it will not impact the company’s strategy to continue working toward technological advances designed to improve customers’ quality of life, William C. Ford, Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, said at the Atlantic Council on June 5.

    It “would be nice” to see the United States abide by the Paris deal, an international agreement with more than 190 countries committed to reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions, however, the US withdrawal from the accord “doesn’t change anything for us,” said Ford. He insisted his company, which has already made great progress toward clean energy improvements, will continue with business as usual.

    “We are already ahead of where the Paris accords would like us to go,” in terms of environmental regulations, he said.

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  • Latin America Leads by Example on Women’s Leadership

    Data set forth in a recent Atlantic Council report shows that ushering in female leadership at the upper echelons of society is “not just a moral decision,” but a strategic one, Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy at the US Department of Defense, said at the Atlantic Council on May 31.

    “You have to take a comprehensive, systematic approach” to gender equality, said Flournoy in a keynote address. “From a talent-management perspective, why would you keep half of your talent off the table?” she questioned. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

    Flournoy described how business literature and research, such as that compiled in the Atlantic Council’s newest report, Women’s Leadership in Latin America, show that when women are included in leadership roles, from the realms of business to peace and security processes, companies and governments experience greater success....

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  • This is Why Africa Matters to the United States

    The cuts to foreign aid proposed in US President Donald Trump’s new budget, if passed, would drastically diminish US influence in Africa, threaten US security interests, and make way for countries like China to fill the void, according to a former White House official.

    “We can’t be ceding this space to China and to other players to have them deepen their economic ties and their political ties and have the US really lose out,” said Grant Harris, who served as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2015.  

    Trump’s new federal budget would put an end to important US engagement on the continent, engagement which, according to Harris, is vital for US national security. This is the premise of his recently published Atlantic Council report: Why Africa Matters to US National Security. “Far too many people...

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  • Putin, Not Trump, Has Led NATO Members to Increase Defense Spending

    While US President Donald J. Trump admonished the United States’ NATO allies at a meeting in Brussels on May 25 for not spending enough on collective defense, it is the threat posed by Russia that has been a bigger factor in galvanizing the allies’ defense commitments, according to a former deputy secretary general of NATO.

    “Vladimir Putin probably had more of a role in increasing defense spending than Donald Trump,” said Alexander Vershbow, who now serves as a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

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  • Arab Gulf States Set to Woo Trump

    During US President Donald J. Trump’s upcoming trip to Riyadh, Gulf leaders will seek to portray themselves as capable partners for the United States in countering common threats, namely violent extremism and Iranian aggression, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    Throughout the summit, leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will “want to make it clear that they have become more capable partners,” said Bilal Y. Saab, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Peace and Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council. He said they will try to communicate to Trump: “Rely on us more. Trust us more. We are happy to devote sufficient resources to common fights including counter-terrorism and countering Iran.”

    “I think they will push that message more aggressively now, because this is what Trump wants to hear,” Saab added. Regarded as a “transactional” president and self-proclaimed dealmaker, Trump emphasized throughout his campaign that the...

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  • Iran Faces Its Own Populist Test

    The outcome of its presidential election on May 19 will determine whether Iran is the next nation to succumb to a populist candidate seeking to upend the normative world order, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.   

    “This is going to be the next test in that wave,” following the election of US President Donald J. Trump and the defeat of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, said Amir Handjani, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

    Iran’s upcoming election will have tremendous implications for both the future of Iran and the US-Iranian relationship. Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, widely recognized as a moderate proponent of a rules-based world order, will face off against conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, generally considered the preferred candidate of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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  • ‘If We Can’t Afford to Protect it, Then We Can’t Afford to Connect it’

    The ransomware attack that shut down a number of hospitals in the United Kingdom (UK) on May 12 should serve as a wake-up call to defend critical infrastructure against cyberterrorism, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

    “I was never worried that ransomware was going to deliberately kill someone,” said Joshua Corman, director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. Referring to hacking groups that identify as part of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), he added, “I was worried about adversaries like Cyber Caliphate extremist groups who have the means, motive, and opportunity to take life.”

    In a cyber security environment in which low-capability actors can access tools in the public domain to launch a widespread cyberattack, “there are no technical barriers to a sustained attack on any or all hospitals globally,” Corman said.

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