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  • Author: Bill Brownell, Scott Stone
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The release of the second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report on March 31, 2014, provoked the usual calls for urgent and immediate action in response to climate change, including in particular at the international level in the form of a new climate treaty built upon domestic regulatory regimes. Irrespective of whether these calls for action are overly strident or carefully measured, the law plays a central role. In almost any discussion, the breadth and stringency of national and sub-national regulations and the extent to which a treaty can make them “legally binding” assumes paramount importance. But this emphasis on law is misplaced, because it runs headlong into the hard reality that would confront any international climate agreement in the US Senate. And given the soaring use of coal around the world, it also draws attention and resources away from far more achievable opportunities to develop and deploy advanced coal technologies that would allow the world's most abundant, accessible, and affordable energy resource to meet critical energy needs in balance with each country's environmental, economic, and security priorities.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Franklin D. Kramer
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: As the Ukraine crisis demonstrates, in an unpredictable world, military capabilities can be a critical factor. The longstanding goals of the United States and its NATO allies have been to create a Europe whole and free, and globally to support such goals through collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security. Ukraine raises the issue of how best to accomplish those ends. As part of the Ukraine response, there have been and will continue to be diplomatic, economic, and energy efforts. However, one key element will be to create more effective integrated capabilities that will support NATO's military tasks, and thus the values and goals that NATO represents.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Ukraine, North America
  • Author: Pinar Dost-Niyego, Orhan Taner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The recent events in Ukraine have revived the question of European dependence on Russian natural gas. The security of Europe's natural gas supply has been a consistently important issue in Russian-European Union (EU) relations. Russia provided 34 percent of EU gas in 2012, and Russian policies can have a direct impact on EU supplies. After the West-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, a lot has been said about the 'US shale gas revolution' and the possibilities of the United States becoming an energy exporter for future European energy needs. Although US energy independence seems to promise new perspectives for future European energy security, as well as for the balance of power in the Middle East, this is not for this decade. We cannot expect that the European Union would be able to cut off all of its energy relations with Russia, but we can foresee–or at least agree–that the European Union should diversify its natural gas supplies.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Jihadists are steadily capturing territory and resources and establishing a state in Syria and Iraq. The most capable jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), now controls swathes of territory, energy resources, and sophisticated military hardware in both countries. Although the extremists are currently occupied with fighting other nonregime armed groups and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes, these efforts are a means to an end: building a state from which to confront and target the United States, its allies, and its interests in the region. These jihadist groups also bring boundless suffering to the populations they control, and serve as a magnet for and inspiration to jihadists worldwide.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Sectarianism, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Homi Kharas, Nabil Hashmi
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) measures donors' performance on 31 indicators of aid quality to which donors have made commitments. The indicators are grouped into four dimensions associated with effective aid: maximizing efficiency, fostering institutions, reducing the burden on partner countries, and transparency and learning. The 2014 edition finds that donors are overall becoming more transparent and better at fostering partner country institutions but that there has been little progress at maximizing efficiency or reducing the burden on partner countries. The World Bank's concessional lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), performs very well in QuODA, ranking in the top 10 of 31 donors on all four dimensions. The United States ranks in the bottom half of all donors on three of the four dimensions of aid quality and last on reducing the burden on partner countries. The United Kingdom ranks in the top third on three of four dimensions of aid quality and scores particularly well on transparency and learning. The Global Fund ranks in the bottom third on fostering institutions but ranks in the top third on the other three dimensions of aid quality, including the top spot in maximizing efficiency.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Unconventional extraction methods, namely horizontal drilling and fracking, are transforming global energy production, consumption, and trade. Th e extraction of large amounts of oil and gas from shale formations has led to an unprecedented surge of domestic production in the United States. Th e US Department of Energy (DOE) is now processing more than 40 applications from domestic producers to export liquefi ed natural gas (LNG). While experts still disagree about the magnitude and duration of the energy boom, we are at the "dawn of a US oil and gas renaissance" (Houser and Mohan 2014).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Raluca Diana Ardelean, Mengun Zhang
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: China has gained substantial economic power in recent years, becoming the second-largest trading nation after the United States and the largest goods-trading nation since 2012 (Eichengreen 2014). It is also currently the largest source of savings and the largest potential source of capital for international investment (ibid.). Measured by GDP, China is now the second-largest economy in the world (see Figure 1), and the World Bank surmises it is likely to surpass the United States in 2014 (World Bank 2014). Because of China's growing economic importance, a shift in power is reasonably assumed. As its economic power grows, internationalization of the RMB has become a key policy goal for China, especially after the 2008 financial crisis (Zhang 2009; Park 2010; China Securities Regulatory Commission [CSRC] 2014). This goal demonstrates China's desire for better integration and representation in the international economic community and signals its willingness to perform internal financial reforms and take more responsibility in global economic affairs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: Over the last few years there has been a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers detained in “expedited removal” along the U.S. southern border who have expressed a fear of return to their home countries. The overwhelming majority of these people are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. A rise in murders, rape, violence against women, kidnappings, extortion, and other brutality in these countries, which varies due to the particular conditions in each country—fueled by political instability, economic insecurity, breakdown of the rule of law, and the dominance of local and transnational gangs—is prompting many people to flee their homes.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Crime, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America, North America
  • Author: John Higginbotham, Marina Grosu
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Arctic is facing remarkable climatic and oceanic change that is triggering unprecedented opportunities and challenges for Arctic nations, as well as for countries that do not have Arctic territory but are eager to engage and invest in the region. For Canada and the United States, the Beaufort basin offers unique opportunities for Alaska and Canada's Arctic territories.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Arctic
  • Author: Isobel Coleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies are a global scourge. They distort markets, strain government budgets, encourage overconsumption, foster corruption, and harm the environment while doing little to remedy inequality or stimulate development. Yet despite compelling arguments for reform, fossil fuel subsidies remain deeply entrenched. Citizens have yet to be convinced that fuel subsidies can and should be replaced with more efficient poverty alleviation programs. As a result, governments refrain from phasing out fuel subsidies for fear of triggering a public backlash, and even civil unrest. To bolster the prospects for subsidy reform, the United States should support the creation of a new public-private partnership within the World Bank, the Global Subsidy Elimination Campaign (GSEC), to work with governments to execute country-specific communication programs that would build the case for fossil fuel subsidy reform among citizens. The GSEC would start with pilot programs in select countries, and on the basis of these efforts, expand its work to other countries interested in fuel subsidy reform. If the GSEC help s generate just a 5 percent reduction in the more than half a trillion dollars that governments now spend on fossil fuel subsidies, it would free up billions of dollars for more effective anti-poverty initiatives.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States