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Skalamera M.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Energy Research and Social Science | Year: 2016

Several scholars studying energy relations between Europe and Russia have grappled with the question of why such fragmented governance architecture has emerged between these two actors. While this question seems obsolete in the context of the current EU-Russian political impasse, it is, at the very least, odd that despite the standoff, plans for the South Stream pipeline have until recently proceeded almost apace.1 How has this been possible? It is now widely, albeit reluctantly, accepted that Europe depends on Russia's gas and that Russia, in its turn, cannot do without the lucrative EU market. While this reality is basically indisputable, at the macro level this energy trade relationship has been marked with controversies since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Despite the frostiness at what I will call the macro-level, in the past decade, individual EU states and the Kremlin have signed a handful of IGAs for joint pipeline development. Even more importantly, EU companies have concluded a number of important deals with Gazprom: pipelines have been built together, asset swaps concluded, and joint ventures implemented. All this has occurred against the background of increasingly tense relations at the macro level. Therefore, the biggest dilemma when looking into the black box of the EU-Russia gas relationship is how we might make sense of such a vast, multi-faceted, and yet deeply fraught relationship, occurring at so many different levels with varying actors. This article considers a number of political explanations for gas policy and shows that it is usually the economic interests of big energy firms that frequently take precedence, although these are often ignored and hidden as factors. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Parker A.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2014

One of the greatest controversies in geoengineering policy concerns the next stages of solar radiation management research, and when and how it leaves the laboratory. Citing numerous risks and concerns, a range of prominent commentators have called for field experiments to be delayed until there is formalized research governance, such as an international agreement. As a piece of pragmatic policy analysis, this paper explores the practicalities and implications of demands for 'governance before research'. It concludes that 'governance before research' is a desirable goal, but that a delay in experimentation - a moratorium - would probably be an ineffective and counterproductive way to achieve it. Firstly, it is very unlikely that a moratorium could be imposed. Secondly, even if it were practicable it seems that a temporary ban on field experiments would have at best a mixed effect addressing the main risks and concerns, while blocking and stigmatizing safe research and delaying the development of good governance practices from learning by doing. The paper suggests a number of steps to ensure 'governance before research' that can be taken in the absence of an international agreement or national legislation, emphasizing the roles of researchers and research funders in developing and implementing good practices. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Zhang H.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Science and Global Security | Year: 2011

This article discusses the history of China's production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons and uses new public information to estimate the amount of highly enriched uranium and plutonium China produced at its two gaseous diffusion plants and two plutonium production complexes. The new estimates in this article are that China produced 20 ± 4 tons of HEU, 2 ± 0.5 tons of plutonium, and currently has stockpiles of about 16 ± 4 tons of HEU and 1.8 ± 0.5 tons of plutonium available for weapons. The values for China's fissile material production are at the low end of most previous independent estimates, which range from 17-26 tons of highly enriched uranium and 2.1-6.6 tons of plutonium. These new estimates would be significant to assess China's willingness to join a fissile material cutoff treaty and a multilateral nuclear disarmament. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Araujo K.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Energy Research and Social Science | Year: 2014

Energy transitions are an unmistakable part of today's public discourse. Whether shaped by fuel price fluctuation, environmental and security concerns, aspects of technology change, or goals to improve energy access, attention regularly turns to ways in which to improve energy pathways. Yet what is understood about energy system change is still emerging. This article explores the evolving field of energy transitions with an aim to connect and enlarge the scholarship. Definitions and examples of energy transitions are discussed, together with core ideas on trade-offs, urgency, and innovation. Global developments in energy and related mega-trends are then reviewed to highlight areas of analytical significance. Key information sources and suppliers are examined next. The article concludes with ideas about opportunities for further research. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Goldthau A.,Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Goldthau A.,Central European University
Energy Research and Social Science | Year: 2014

Providing societies with reliable energy services, fighting energy poverty and mitigating climate change entail a crucial infrastructure component. Both the energy access and the low carbon challenge require more decentralized energy solutions and a change in the energy infrastructure paradigm. Yet, physical energy infrastructure co-evolves with socio-economic institutions, actors and social norms. This may produce inertia against change. The energy challenge also requires solutions at multiple scales and may entail elements of common pool resource problems. Therefore, the governance of energy infrastructure needs to be polycentric. This allows for contextualization, experimentation and innovation. The article concludes by sketching routes of further research into the energy infrastructure governance nexus in social science research. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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