Recent Events

Advances in energy technologies are enabling individuals, communities, and nations to produce ever-increasing amounts of energy from locally available resources. Since Secretary of Defense James Mattis called for the US military to be “unleashed from the tether of fuel” in remote military operations, the US military has become a leader in seeking energy innovation to power remote operations. On April 13, the Atlantic Council hosted expert panelists from both the public and private sectors to discuss how advances in energy technologies are impacting national and economic security and transformation, with particular focus on military needs and opportunities.
On Wednesday, April 19, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and the Global Energy Center co-hosted a conversation on energy innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East featuring Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, presidential deputy envoy for hostage affairs at the US Department of State; HE Majid Al-Suwaidi, consul general of the United Arab Emirates in New York; and Mr. Salah Tabbara, general manager of ALBina Industrial Construction Company and moderated by Ms. Mirette Mabrouk, deputy director and director of research and programs of the Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

Dr. Nesheiwat presented a global perspective, detailing the proliferation of clean energy as well as the decreased cost to deploy these systems. She noted that renewable energy sources accounted for 55% of new energy developed in 2016, and at 23% lower cost than in 2015. In 2016 solar power cost 17% less to produce, onshore wind cost 18% less, and offshore wind cost 28% less – making these industries even more competitive with fossil fuels. She also discussed the importance of economic diversity to protect the state against market shock in the oil and liquid natural gas markets during supply fluctuations and under threats from violent extremism, this holding especially true for the Gulf states.

HE Al-Suwaidi zeroed in on the UAE, discussing innovative programs like Masdar City, partnerships with Pacific Island states, and the mandate for 27% of the Emirates’ energy demand to be supplied by renewable technologies. He explained that the UAE has known from early on that oil and natural gas are finite resources. Diversifying into aviation, finance, and tourism have proven lucrative for the Emirates, and a strong sense of environmental stewardship has steered innovation away from fossil fuels. The country’s current green growth strategy is pushing for meaningful sustainability in both economic and environmental sectors. Al-Suwaidi also explained how the UAE’s Masdar initiative has invigorated innovation research and development, from partnerships with MIT to bring students from around the globe to participate in innovation competitions, to the Masdar City project,  which he described as a “living lab” for new technologies to be field-tested.
On Monday, April 10, 2017, the Global Energy Center launched Dr. Ian M. Ralby’s latest report, Downstream Oil Theft: Implications and Next Steps. Moderated by Ambassador Morningstar, the expert panel included Ian Ralby, John Gannon, and Terzah Tippin Poe, and discussed how hydrocarbons crime impacts global security, the market, and the environment, and how stakeholders can work together to address this underrecognized issue.
The Global Energy Center launched Robert F. Ichord’s latest report, Transforming the Power sector in Developing Countries: The Critical Role of China in Post-Paris Implementation. Moderated by Charles Ebinger, the expert panel included Robert F. Ichord, Jon Elkind, and Clara Gillispie, and discussed the policy directions for advancing China’s power transformation, regional and global aspects of Chinese energy policies, and the implications for the relationship between the Trump Administration and China.  
On February 15, 2017, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center convened an expert panel for a conversation about the US and German strategies for power sector transition. Panelists discussed the drivers of the energy transformation, the challenges these innovative countries are facing, what approaches are being taken, and the emerging future of this critical part of our societies.
On Thursday, January 26, 2017 the Global Energy Center’s Energy Diplomacy Initiative hosted a report launch on A Natural Gas Diplomacy Strategy for the New US Administration for public and private interests. A new presidential administration under Donald J. Trump, newly elected Congress, and definite transformation in the US gas sector has brought forth a reassessment of the role of natural gas, energy policies, and impacts on international diplomacy. Agnia Grigas, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and author of the report, Suedeen G. Kelly, Partner and Chair, Energy Regulation, Markets, and Enforcement Practice at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LPP and former Commissioner with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Tim Boersma, Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy discussed their respective outlooks and explored recommendations for the new US Administration. Richard Morningstar, Founding Director and Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center moderated the session.
On December 2, 2016, an expert panel joined the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center for a conversation about the practices, risks, and benefits of drone use in the energy industry. The panel deliberated whether regulations currently under development impede or facilitate the emerging role for drones. They also discussed the huge potential for drone technology in the energy industry to generate $82 billion and 100,000 new jobs for the US economy. This technology, while still in its infancy, is already being used to monitor pipelines, electricity lines, solar panels, and wind turbines, as well as to respond to energy-related incidents. The panelists made clear that international and domestic regulators are beginning to set rules on drone use and harmonize standards across national borders. The federal government, electric utility industry, oil and gas industry, and aviation companies are all playing a role in this process.

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and the Global Energy Center hosted a panel discussion on what to do about Russia’s rising profile in the Middle East. Panelist included Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Thomas Cunningham, Deputy Director of Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst at RAND, and Aaron Stein, Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. The event was moderated by Barbara Slavin, the Acting Director of South Asia Center’s Future of Iran Initiative. Panelists discussed Russia’s regional and international policy challenges including the Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, expanded military cooperation between Russia and Iran, and Russia’s near future energy strategy, as well as policy options for President-Elect Trump towards Russia.
On Monday, October 31, 2016 the Global Energy Center hosted a conversation on the necessity of financial disclosures for public and private interests. In light of increasing regulation from climate change legislation, investors are demanding risk disclosures in order to make rational decisions about where to target stakeholder and taxpayer money. Mary Schapiro, Secretariat of the G-20 Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, and Ali Zaidi, White House Office of Management and Budget’s associate director for natural resources, energy, and science discussed the importance of disclosing transition risks for stakeholders. The G-20 Task Force and the US government are furthering the adoption of climate-related financial disclosures on a voluntary basis or through regulatory frameworks, respectively. 

US Special Envoy for Climate Change Jonathan Pershing joined the Atlantic Council on October 25, 2016 to discuss the current status of the Paris Agreement and the agenda for COP-22. Central to COP-22 will be safeguarding the Paris Agreement and endorsing an acceleration of the implementation timetable. A definite shift in the stakes of climate change has made it more likely that national governments will indeed implement the agreement, even without external pressure. As increasing GDP while decreasing emissions is clearly feasible, states from around the globe are initiating the transfer to a low-carbon economy. This trend facilitates the departure from a bifurcated globe, divided between the developed and developing countries where interests of both parties are at odds. Now, an increasing number of countries accept that the inaction in the face of climate change is not an option and are using international forums to negotiate solutions. COP-22 will likely keep the momentum on these issues rolling. New York Times correspondent, Coral Davenport moderated the discussion, asking important questions about the transparency and specificity of the Paris Agreement as well as Russia’s role in the global effort to curb climate change.