Expanding estimates of North America’s supply of accessible shale gas, and more recently, shale oil, have been trumpeted in many circles as the most significant energy resource development since the oil boom in Texas in the late 1920s. How large are these resources? What challenges will need to be overcome if their potential is to be realized? How will they impact U.S. energy policy?
To address these questions, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and two of its programs ― the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Geopolitics of Energy Project ― convened a group of experts from business, government, and academia on May 1, 2012, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The following report summarizes the major issues discussed at this workshop. Since the discussions were off-the-record, no comments are attributed to any individual. Rather, this report attempts to summarize the arguments on all sides of the issues.
The outcome of the December 2011 United Nations climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, provides an important new opportunity to move toward an international climate policy architecture that is capable of delivering broad international participation and significant global CO2 emissions reductions at reasonable cost. We evaluate one important component of potential climate policy architecture for the post-Durban era: links among independent tradable permit systems for greenhouse gases.
By Leonardo Maugeri, Senior Fellow, Geopolitics of Energy Project
A new study by Belfer Center Geopolitics of Energy researcher Leonardo Maugeri finds that oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020. This could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices. The findings by Maugeri, a former oil industry executive who is now a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, are based on an original field-by-field analysis of the world’s major oil formations and exploration projects.
"Perceptions and Narratives of Security: The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iran-Iraq War"
By Annie Tracy Samuel, Former Associate, International Security Program, July–August 2014; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2014; Former Research Fellow, Dubai Initiative, Fall 2011
This paper explores the importance of the Iran-Iraq War for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) by analyzing how the Guards have used the war to present their positions on Iran's national security.
By Ethan Corbin, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2011–2013
This paper examines the state of Syria's regional armed group allies today in the face of Syrian decline.
By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Twenty years ago Russia and fourteen other newly-independent states emerged from the ruins of the Soviet empire, many as nations for the first time in history. As is typical in the aftermath of the collapse of an empire, this was followed by a period of chaos, confusion, and corruption. As the saying went at the time, “everything is for sale.” At that same moment, as the Soviet state imploded, 35,000 nuclear weapons remained at thousands of sites across a vast Eurasian landmass that stretched across eleven time zones.
Today, fourteen of the fifteen successor states to the Soviet Union are nuclear weapons-free. This paper will address the question: how did this happen? Looking ahead, it will consider what clues we can extract from the success in denuclearizing fourteen post-Soviet states that can inform our non-proliferation and nuclear security efforts in the future. These clues may inform leaders of the U.S., Russia, and other responsible nations attending the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26-27, 2012. The paper will conclude with specific recommendations, some exceedingly ambitious that world leaders could follow to build on the Seoul summit’s achievements against nuclear terrorism in the period before the next summit in 2014. One of these would be to establish a Global Alliance Against Nuclear Terrorism.
"A successful international climate policy framework will have to meet two conditions, build a coalition of countries that is potentially effective and give each member country sufficient incentives to join and remain in this coalition. Such coalition should be capable of delivering ambitious emission reduction even if some countries do not take mitigation action. In addition, it should meet the target without exceedingly high mitigation costs and deliver a net benefit to member countries as a whole. The novel contribution of this paper is mostly methodological, but it also adds a better qualification of well-known results that are policy relevant."
In a new Harvard Project Discussion Paper, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei's Valentina Bosetti and Enrica De Cian model the behavior of countries not participating in a cooperative climate regime. The regime imposes counterbalancing influences upon these countries, but under some conditions they may act to both reduce emissions and increase clean-energy R&D
By Vivek Mohan, Associate, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program/Project on Technology, Security, and Conflict in the Cyber Age
Consumer expectations of online and mobile privacy have in recent years diverged significantly from reality. In certain circumstances, the United States government has the ability to access a consumer's cloud-based email, location data gathered from their mobile phones, and information about what calls a user places on a mobile device—without a warrant. While a broad coalition is spearheading reform efforts in Washington, providers of these services should take proactive steps to bring consumer understanding of their privacy more in line with reality.
"New Threats, Old Technology: Vulnerabilities in Undersea Communication Cable Network Management Systems"
By Michael Sechrist, Former Associate, Explorations in Cyber International Relations (ECIR), Jan.-Jun. 2012; Former Project Manager, ECIR , Oct.-Dec. 2011; Former Research Fellow, ECIR, Jul. 2010-Sep. 2011, Former Associate, Explorations in Cyber International Relations (ECIR), Jan–Jun 2012; Former Project Manager, ECIR, Oct–Dec 2011; Former Research Fellow, ECIR, Jul 2010–Sept 2011
This paper explores the vulnerabilities to cyber attacks of infrastructure that today carries nearly all the world's data and voice traffic: undersea communications cables. Long-standing physical vulnerabilities in cable infrastructure have been compounded by new risk found in the network management systems that monitor and control cable operations. Unlike an attack on a water treatment plant's control systems, however, an attack on the cables' control systems could devastate the world's economies — presenting a different kind of Internet "kill switch" altogether — shutting down world commerce, and doing it all with the click of a mouse.