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About the Energy Security and Climate Initiative

The Energy Security and Climate Initiative (ESCI) at Brookings is designed to encourage the development, discussion and dissemination of high-caliber energy research. ESCI is guided by the observation that energy policy choices of the past have shaped the current economic, environmental and strategic landscape in profound ways, and by the additional premise that the energy decisions we make today will have an equally profound impact on the economic, environmental and strategic landscape of the future. Achieving a more secure future will therefore require a more determined effort to understand the consequences of our present actions in each of these spheres and to transform them into effective policy prescriptions.

ESCI, through its research and convening efforts, seeks to examine three key substantive aspects of energy security:

  • From a strategic perspective, we focus on the geopolitics of energy in a range of countries and regions around the world, including the Middle East, Asia, the Arctic, Russia, Europe and Latin America, particularly to understand the intersection of politics and energy, security risks to the United States and other consumers and producers posed by vulnerabilities to key supplies transport routes, and markets; the ways in which energy demand drives national security decisions in countries such as China and India; and the opportunities and risks posed by the geopolitics of nuclear power and coal.
  • From an economic perspective, we focus on supply disruptions and price spikes and their effects on the United States and the world energy markets; shifts in global wealth and the questions arising from that, for financial markets and national policies; the impact of open and sustainable economic systems on development both in energy-consuming and energy-producing nations; how trade might be affected; and how the World Trade Organization and other actors will address these issues.
  • Looking at the environment, we focus on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, including an examination of non-fossil supply sources; demand management; regulatory, tax and other policy tools that can influence market incentives to pursue various “green” technologies; the political and economic implications of alternative technologies for various industries and constituencies; and the international arrangements needed to cut global emissions.

Governance and security arrangements that cut across all three major issue areas are also examined. These include the interplay between federal, state and local regulation of various forms of energy; the role of existing institutions in international energy markets and the implications for emerging economies; assessing and preparing for regional or global disruptions; efforts to increase incentives to invest in new and existing resources and technology; achieving greater diversification of the energy mix domestically and globally; creating security arrangements that stabilize key regions like the Persian Gulf or transport lanes; building institutional capacity to support market mechanisms to curb carbon emissions; and managing disputes between winners and losers as the cost of carbon is reflected in the United States and other economies.

Energy security is a major factor influencing how countries conduct their foreign, economic and international security policies. Major supplier countries with vast energy resources exercise more power on the international stage than ever before. Energy is a primary consideration in how large importers—in need of adequate, reliable, and affordable supplies of energy—make alliances, offer foreign aid, and otherwise conduct their foreign policy. Brookings aims to guide effective, pragmatic policies to address these and other U.S. and global energy security issues over the next decade.

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