Recent Events

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.

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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. 

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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.
On October 21st, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center launched a new report: ‘Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries’ by Dr. Robert F. Ichord, Jr. The panel included perspectives from the US government, the World Bank, and the private industry to discuss solutions for clean, efficient, and sustainable power in the developing world. Panelists discussed the issue of how to bring power to the remaining one billion plus people who live without it, and how to make power reliable at all hours of the day. They concluded that national governments need to make political decisions to invest in their power sectors. Panelists also cited that to overcome political challenges, the private sector, international institutions, and developed countries need to engage and invest in the developing world.
The United States holds the two-year rotating Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until summer 2017, bridging the turnover between presidential administrations. Looking backward, our panelists presented high points of the Arctic Council under US leadership, highlighting the cooperation between littoral states on global problems like climate change. However, the increasing pace of climate change and potential tensions over Russia’s military intentions pose challenges for the last several months of the US’s Chairmanship. At stake in this discussion is not only a gradual rise in sea level worldwide, but also the disappearance of means of livelihood for certain indigenous communities north of the Arctic Circle. Looking forward, panelists cited avoiding dangerous deep-water exploration and drilling for natural gas and oil, fostering regional response and coordination, and continuing global engagement in dealing with emerging crises in the Arctic as viable goals for the Arctic Council.
On Friday, September 23, in cooperation with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, the Africa Center hosted a delegation from the Moroccan host-country Steering Committee for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) for a briefing on the conference, which will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016. The delegation included Mr. Driss El Yazami, head of civil society activities for COP22, and Mr. Saïd Mouline, head of public-private partnerships for COP22.
On September, 2016, the Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative hosted a panel on the book The Future of Natural Gas: Markets and Geopolitics. Nicolò Sartori, Senior Fellow at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, and co-editor of the book, provided an overwiew and discussed the development of LNG as a future reliable resource, diversification of energy supplies in Europe and Asia, and market forces driving the natural gas industry. Jane Nakano, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, highlighted Japan’s strategic importance for the LNG market, as well as Japan’s geopolitical issues with China, citing that two-thirds of LNG shipments pass through the contested South China Sea.


    

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