Commentary

The Center fosters dissemination of research on energy policy within Columbia and in the broader academic, business, professional, and public policy communities. While much of the research produced by scholars affiliated with the Center ultimately appears in scholarly books and professional journals, we also publish interesting, rigorous, and topical papers directly. All research produced through the Center is available for free via download on our website.

Commentary

Richard Nephew

Fellow Richard Nephew argues that far from only imposing sanctions or sanctions-like authorities when U.S. interests are directly impinged, sanctions are increasingly being used as a substitute for more effective action, to avoid taking more risky (but probably necessary) action, and to address domestic political needs in the United States. Sanctions are a powerful tool but, like all instruments of statecraft, should be handled carefully to preserve their utility for future generations of American policymakers and legislators. Richard Nephew uses the example of bill H.R. 5461, or the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, which is to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives, as one example of when the United States should choose not to act (i.e. not pass the bill). He argues that while the purpose of the bill is noble and reasonable, it has a number of logical flaws and inconsistencies that argue against its passage, including: A public U.S. government report on Iranian leadership assets will not facilitate anti-corruption efforts inside of Iran; A comprehensive report will endanger U.S. intelligence collection; a thin report will prompt allegations of misconduct; This report will be a nightmare to draft, absorbing real work hours from people who are stretched; The reporting requirement is duplicative of other authorities and mandates in some ways, while confusing those lines in others.

Commentary

Richard Nephew, Matthew Robinson

There is any number of reasons why Washington lawmakers could decide to seek a ramping up of pressure against Venezuela, particularly during an election year. But, argue Matt Robinson and Richard Nephew, an even more compelling case can be made that the appropriate strategic choice was not to act and to instead permit the situation in Venezuela unravel on its own. In this, the United States has demonstrated a considered approach to statecraft by avoiding the temptation to involve itself in the situation in Caracas.

Commentary

Dr. Luay al-Khatteeb

Writing in the National Interest, Fellow Luay Al-Khatteeb writes about the folly of lobbying to carve up Iraq.

Commentary

Jason Bordoff

Writing on CFR's Energy, Security, and Climate blog, Founding Director Jason Bordoff discusses why the United States should only use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in infrequent circumstances to protect the U.S. economy from major supply disruptions around the world.

Commentary

David Sandalow

Clean energy leaders from around the world convene this week in San Francisco for the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial. In this commentary, Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow, who helped launch the Clean Energy Ministerial during his tenure at the U.S. Department of Energy, takes stock. What has the Clean Energy Ministerial accomplished in its first seven years? What should it do for the next seven years? Sandalow offers reflections and recommendations, concluding that the Clean Energy Ministerial is making a real difference but that it can - and must - do more in the years ahead.

Commentary

Richard Nephew

Iranian elections on February 26 appear to have empowered reformist and moderate-leaning candidates, notwithstanding attempts on the part of hardline members of the Iranian government to steer the elections decisively in their own favor.

Commentary

Richard Nephew

Today, the United States, its P5+1 partners, and Iran announced that the formal Implementation Day described in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had been reached. This announcement followed on the report by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, that Iran had fulfilled all of its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA and that the agency was in a position to verify this situation going forward.

Commentary

Richard Nephew

The likely decision by the United States to impose new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and those individuals supporting it follows multiple tests of its prohibited missile systems over the past few months.

Commentary

Jason Bordoff, David Sandalow, Dr. Vijay Modi, Dr. Geoffrey M. Heal , Michael B. Gerrard, Dr. Scott Barrett

Following the historic Paris Agreement last weekend, the Columbia SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy collected commentary on the agreement from several of our scholars and Faculty Affiliates across Columbia University.

Commentary

Robert McNally

In this commentary piece, Bob McNally, a Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy and Founder and President of The Rapidan Group, explains how OPEC abdicated the role of market manager over ten years ago--not just in the last year--and that we have already seen the results in a boom (2004–2008) and two busts (2008, 2014–2015) in oil prices. Given oil’s vital role in the global economy, financial markets, and policymaking, coping with elevated price volatility will require the sustained and smart attention of business and government leaders.

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