While the United States and Europe are considered the pioneers of renewable energy, Asia is emerging as a major player in the renewable energy transition. Although experts predict Asia will remain the fastest growing market for oil, gas, and coal, even as an energy transition takes hold, slowing regional fossil-fuel consumption could have significant market and geopolitical implications—and signal that the world could be moving closer to reaching a peak in global oil demand. The transformation on the horizon, spurred by a shift from energy-intensive growth to improved efficiency and focus on electrification, has already occurred in major Asian economies, providing a model for shifts in the transportation sector, for example, to address the energy security and climate challenges facing the region. So, how plausible is electrification and deep decarbonization of Asia?
Across the Middle East and North Africa, population growth is driving demand for air conditioning, water, and infrastructure, which has in turn led to more demand for electricity. Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the Gulf, are increasingly looking to renewable energy to meet their growing energy needs. Much of the emphasis is on solar, including photovoltaic panels and concentrated solar power, along with increased interest in wind energy.
Oil production already provides much-needed revenue and economic development and underwrites the Iraqi federal budget. Meanwhile, gas development could also play a key role in Iraq’s future by fostering broad based economic development, improving electric service provision, and fostering value-added industries, according to the report, Shaping Iraq’s Oil and Gas Future, launched at The Atlantic Council’s 2018 Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.
When global oil and gas prices fell in 2014, many oil-producing countries, including those in the Gulf, felt the consequences and began to face the stark reality that oil revenue-based economies must diversify in order to continue prospering. In the wake of the dramatic price change and the expectation that prices will not return to their previous highs, many oil revenue-based economies in the Gulf region began to implement, or are planning to enact, economic reforms. Four such countries are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. Their reforms are important, but for these four nations, in order to continue innovating and prospering economically, it is crucial to craft policies that strive to include women in the workforce.
As climate change increases the vulnerability of communities to major natural disasters, cities are taking on leadership roles in climate adaptation planning and implementation. This requires deep coordination between leaders across jurisdictions and significant infrastructure investment. Many cities have already begun planning for current and future climate threats, often with the help of international networks dedicated to bringing local leaders together to share best practices.
Bilal Saab, senior fellow and director of the Defense and Security Program at the Middle East Institute, cautions in a new issue brief, Iran’s Long Game in Bahrain, that analysts should not overstate the strength of Iran’s influence among the Bahraini opposition. However, he warns that Iran’s destabilizing activities in Bahrain are increasing, even as its current role in Bahrain is not very extensive. Iran is becoming more meddlesome in Bahraini politics by co-opting narratives of frustrated political reformers while simultaneously supporting aggressive militant elements with weapons and training via the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Saab concludes that Bahrain must leave as little room for Iran to operate as possible, coupled with a policy of meaningful, inclusive political reform, in order to keep Tehran’s influence at bay.
On November 30, 2016, the Colombian Congress ratified the peace accords signed by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), setting in motion a series of reforms stipulated in the accords. One year later, how much has implementation of the accords advanced and what are the top issues that will influence the success of the post-accord transition in 2018? The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s latest Spotlight publication, co-authored by Andrea Saldarriaga Jiménez and Juan Felipe Celia, analyzes these key issues and the road ahead for Colombia in 2018.
One of the most fundamental challenges created by climate change is managing the developing global water crisis. Whether it is controlling floodwaters and rising sea levels, or maintaining potable water access during a drought, governments and individuals worldwide are forced to find new ways to mitigate the impact of this crisis.
Twenty years after the Asian Financial Crisis, Asian economies are buoyant, working with a smartly reformed IMF to brace for future crises, and rhetoric aside, it will a while before China’s RMB challenges the US dollar as the world’s first reserve currency. But the risk of regional financial efforts in Europe and Asia leading to a fragmentation of the global financial system still may be only one global crisis away.
The United States faces threats from outside its borders, but also from within. While domestic issues including healthcare, immigration, and tax reform occupy the media, a more sinister threat exists underfoot. The political system that once created a strong, prosperous, and united nation now sows division. Many of the country’s public institutions, most notably Congress, seem increasingly inept and dangerously dysfunctional. Permanent campaign mode is distracting the country’s institutions from their responsibilities, alienating the public from civic processes, and leaving the country vulnerable to foreign interference.