When Joe Biden confronts the strongman of Russia on June 16th, the global balance of power will be at stake, for the remainder of his presidency and beyond. The responsibility on Biden's shoulders will be tremendous. The forecast? Grim.
This Newlines Institute Contours podcast presents a deep dive into U.S. President Joe Biden’s inaugural visit to Europe, his administration’s commitment to collective defense, and the fragile trajectory of U.S.-Russian relations ahead of the June 16 Geneva summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In this episode, Newlines Institute Senior Analyst and Contours host, Nicholas Heras, sits down with four special guests: Jim Townsend, Jr., an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security’s Transatlantic Security Program and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy; Rachel Rizzo, the Director of Programs at the Truman Center and Truman National Security Project; Dr. Ariel Cohen, a Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council and Founding Principal of International Market Analysis, Ltd; and Caroline Rose, a Senior Analyst and Head of Newlines Institute’s Power Vacuums Program.
The Canadian effort to sway President Biden to license for the Keystone XL pipeline has failed, leaving TransCanada (TC) Energy to formally scrap the contentious $9 billion project. While doubtless appealing to environmental activists, this is a massive geopolitical blunder by the Biden Administration, putting politics and ideology in front of national interests.
What makes renewable energy so exciting is the immense economic potential of groundbreaking technology advancements.
A recent discovery by engineers of Oxford Brookes University’s School of Engineering, Computing, and Mathematics could change the design of offshore wind farms forever. The study, led by Professor Iakovos Tzanakis, demonstrates that deep sea and coastal wind turbines could achieve a 15% increase in power output if traditional horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) are replaced by a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) design. While classic HAWT windmills produce energy with a standard three-blade “pinwheel” design, VAWT utilizes a more cylindrical shape with blades rotating around a central shaft.
In this video series, Dr. Ariel Cohen discusses current events happening around the world. The discussion in this video will focus on the escalating tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While the Leaders Summit on Climate last month emphasized the need for worldwide cooperation and accountability in the fight against climate change, recent developments along the U.S.- Canada border demonstrate just how messy joint action can be, even between the best of allies.
Millions of people on the planet are working on alternative energy: engineers, politicians, laborers and analysts. Even more people are the consumers of these emission-free power sources which range from solar to biofuels. In the future, yet more novel types of energy will charge our grids: geothermal, space-based solar, tidal, hydrogen, and more.
On Thursday April 15, President Biden imposed long-awaited sanctions on Russia, blaming the Kremlin for the SolarWinds hack that breached U.S. government agencies and American companies. The sanctions are aimed at Russia's disinformation efforts and the occupation of Crimea, along with its recent military buildup and exercises on the Ukraine border. Ten Russian diplomats were expelled as a result.
The Biden administration recently announced a plan to substantially expand the use of offshore wind power along the East Coast, aiming to tap a huge new source of clean energy that is likely to gain widespread acceptance in the United States.
March 27 saw the culmination of a half-decade of negotiations between Beijing and Tehran, with foreign ministers meeting to sign a twenty-five-year $400 billion strategic and economic partnership. The specifics of the agreement are largely in line with China’s ongoing Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), spending billions in infrastructure investment with an eye on long term influence and economic and security hegemony. Major sectors include oil, gas, petrochemical, renewables, nuclear power, and energy infrastructure. The draft agreement also covered the high-tech and military cooperation, as well as port construction to facilitate Iran’s integration in China’s Belt and Road trade routes.
The idea of space-based laser weapons orbiting the earth has been a part of popular culture and real life government projects for decades, from James Bond’s Goldeneye to Ronald Reagan’s ambitious “Star Wars” program. Recently, the Pentagon began developing a framework to promote the innovation of what it calls Direct Energy Weapons (DEW) designed to weaponize laser systems for use against military targets. The U.S. military more than doubled its spending on DEWs between 2017 and 2019, from $535 million to $1.1 billion. Yet, compared with the massive funding for kinetic missile defense and nuclear modernization, these are minuscule budgets.
The global competition for critical minerals is heating up and the US isn’t winning. Among these critical minerals is a subset known as rare earth elements (REEs) which are vital to everything from the energy transition to national defense. On March 4th Tesla announced its partnership with a nickel mine in New Caledonia. The announcement comes amidst emerging rumors that China will impose export limits on rare earths metals. What’s the connection?
On Sunday March 7, Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked an Aramco oil facility in Ras Tanura, a major port on Saudi Arabia’s Persian Gulf Coast. Brigadier General. Yahya Sarea, a spokesman for the rebel group, said in a televised statement that ballistic missiles and drones hit the oil facility and one of its largest refineries, along with military positions in nearby Dammam. Sarea said the attack was part of the Houthis’ “natural right” as a response to the “aggression and total siege of our dear country” by the Saudis.
The Israeli government is accusing Iran of environmental terrorism over the historic oil disaster unfolding along its Mediterranean coast line. At this point, nearly 100 tons of tar and contaminated material have been scraped off the country’s shores since cleanup efforts began on the 21st of February. In the ensuing investigation the original culprit has since been identified by authorities as a pirate-owned Libyan oil tanker carrying stolen cargo from Iran to Syria.
A massive oil spill off the coast of Israel is being called the worst ecological disasters in the Mediterranean country’s history. The cause and full extent of the damage is still unknown, but Israeli authorities are investigating. Several tankers are under suspicion.
Beijing and Moscow assiduously followed former president Donald Trump's second impeachment trial for the same reasons they followed the first: the United States is China's and Russia's number one geopolitical rival. What's relevant to America's domestic politics, then, is relevant to its rivals' foreign policy ambitions. To prevent acts of hostility in a time of tumult—virtual and real—the Biden administration will need to reassure allies, shore up American institutions and deter aggression.
Let’s not mince words – the energy crisis in Texas is an unmitigated disaster on all fronts. Some 4.4 million people have been without power, heat, and running water for days and lack of the state grid’s preparation is to blame. Texas loves to brag about its energy independence and self-reliant electrical grid. But the events of the past week underscore that America’s largest energy producer is not as energy secure as once thought. About 90% of the Lone Star State is powered by a Texas-only power grid, but the current events strongly suggest that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) should join a regional transmission organization to meet energy demands.
Microsoft’s billionaire founder Bill Gates is financially backing the development of sun-dimming technology that would potentially reflect sunlight out of Earth’s atmosphere, triggering a global cooling effect. The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), launched by Harvard University scientists, aims to examine this solution by spraying non-toxic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dust into the atmosphere — a sun-reflecting aerosol that may offset the effects of global warming.
The Biden Administration – due to take office January 20th, 2021 – is expected to turn political rhetoric into political action when it comes to the nation’s resource use and energy management. Central to this will be decarbonizing the US electricity sector through renewable power sources as part of the much-touted green energy transition.
Shortly after President Donald Trump ordered a U.S. retreat from Syria and Afghanistan in October 2019, events in the region drew U.S. forces right back in. The administration’s decision to target Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, triggered tit-for-tat retaliation between Washington and Tehran at the opening of 2020, bringing bilateral tensions to their highest levels since the 1979 hostage crisis. Despite these actions in the region, Washington is still seeking to retreat from its security commitments in the Greater Middle East and Central Asia. While there are financial and political benefits to reducing America’s footprint abroad, a reduced presence in this geopolitically critical part of the world could also create a strategic vacuum with dire diplomatic, economic, and security consequences.
On November 15th the world’s largest trade agreement was signed in a virtual meeting room, bringing an end to eight years of negotiations. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) links 15 Asia-Pacific economies, including the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. This is a historic step – and a major trade blow to the United States.
With Joe Biden’s presidential election victory last week, climate change is set to be a top priority for the incoming administration, second only to the Covid-19 recovery. As discussed in my recent article, the president-elect has laid out an ambitious roadmap for decarbonizing the US economy, which includes a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions for the country by 2050. This will require unprecedented investments in green energy technologies: from traditional solar, wind, and storage to frontier tech like hydrogen fuel cells and small modular reactors (SMRs).
Days after Joe Biden’s contentious presidential win, the U.S. Federal Reserve – known as one of America’s most conservative institutions – acknowledged for the first time the financial risks of climate change in its biannual financial stability report. In comments attached to the publication, Fed Governor Lael Brainard said the following:
“Acute hazards, such as storms, floods, or wildfires, may cause investors to update their perceptions of the value of real or financial assets suddenly…slow increases in mean temperatures or sea levels, or a gradual change in investor sentiment about those risks, introduce the possibility of abrupt tipping points or significant swings in sentiment.”
The historic win of the Presidency by Joe Biden will massively change U.S. policies, foreign and domestic. It is too early to project the scope of that transformation. Without a doubt, Biden’s energy policy will differ from that of his predecessor.
At Thursday’s presidential debate, former Vice President Joe Biden pledged to transition the U.S. economy “away from the oil industry.” This goal cannot be achieved without the electrification of road transport, which accounted for almost 70% of America’s oil consumption in 2019. Market forces and green government policies are accelerating this shift in the United States and around the world.