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Transforming the Electricity Portfolio: Lessons from Germany and Japan in Deploying Renewable Energy

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Transforming the Electricity Portfolio: Lessons from Germany and Japan in Deploying Renewable Energy
Source: Brookings Institution

Amid an ongoing international debate on the reduction of carbon emissions, Germany and Japan are undertaking a dramatic shift in their electricity portfolios. The 2011 Japanese earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility accident have sparked both Japanese and German energy policy to shift away from carbon-free nuclear energy and towards renewables. However, despite large gains in market share by renewables, these two countries have seen increases in both fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions as the market share of nuclear energy has declined.

This shift raises fundamental energy policy questions: how can countries simultaneously decarbonize their electricity mix while phasing out nuclear energy? What are the costs and challenges of large-scale renewable integration? Who will bear these costs? In the Energy Security Initiative’s latest policy brief, authors John Banks, Charles Ebinger and Alisa Schackmann seek to answer these questions while identifying potential relevant lessons for large-scale deployment of renewables in the United States.

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Aging Behind Bars: Trends and Implications of Graying Prisoners in the Federal Prison System

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Aging Behind Bars: Trends and Implications of Graying Prisoners in the Federal Prison System
Source: Urban Institute

This new Urban Institute study provides an in-depth examination of the growth patterns in the largest correctional system in the United States—the US Bureau of Prisons. The number of prisoners age 50 or older experienced a 330 percent increase from 1994 to 2011. The authors find that the proportion of these older prisoners is expected to have an even steeper growth curve in the near future and they may consume a disproportionately large amount of the federal prison budget. Recommendations for policy and research include expanding data-driven knowledge on older prisoners and developing cost-effective management plans for them.

India-U.S. Relations in 14 Charts and Graphics

September 29, 2014 Comments off

India-U.S. Relations in 14 Charts and Graphics
Source: Brookings Institution

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the United States, it’s worth putting the India-U.S. relationship in perspective and considering how far it has come in recent years. Fifteen years ago, there were U.S. sanctions on India. More recently, the Obama administration has said the U.S. relationship with India “will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” These 14 charts and graphics show that the relationship has changed in other ways as well, including the areas of high-level India-U.S. engagement, economic and defense ties, people-to-people connections amongst Indians and Americans and future opportunities to increase bilateral cooperation.

The U.S. Army in Asia, 2030-2040

September 29, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Army in Asia, 2030-2040
Source: RAND Corporation

For the next 20 or more years, the U.S. relationship with China will be the fulcrum on which the East Asian security order balances. As a result, U.S. policy should seek to prevent the emergence of an overtly hostile U.S.-China relationship while hedging against the possibility that one could nonetheless emerge. Such a strategy must balance between protecting U.S. interests in East Asia, where clashes with China’s preferences are most likely, and cooperating with Beijing globally where the two sides have common objectives. Crafting and sustaining such a strategy will be a major challenge. It must have clear and realistic goals flowing from larger U.S. interests and strategy in the region, take into account the need for U.S.-China cooperation on a host of global security and economic matters, be flexible and responsive to Chinese moves, seek to channel Chinese conduct in favorable directions, and reflect the new realities of Asia resulting from China’s increased military and economic power. The U.S. Army will have an important role to play in supporting U.S. strategy in the Asia-Pacific, primarily by providing training and support to allies and partners; helping to defend key facilities from enemy ground, air, and missile attack; providing key enabling support to the joint force; projecting expeditionary combat forces into the theater; contributing to new conventional deterrent options; and helping to encourage China’s participation in cooperative military-to-military engagements.

The Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act

September 26, 2014 Comments off

The Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was last reauthorized in 2007, terrorism insurance has remained widely available and the price has fallen. However, challenges remain from both a social and an insurance point of view. Roughly 40 percent of policyholders still do not purchase terrorism coverage, and uncertainty remains regarding how much coverage would be available without TRIA. What is more, the program is set to expire on December 31, 2014, and it is unclear whether the improvements in the market since TRIA was first passed in 2002 can be sustained without it.

On June 10, 2014, a conference was convened in Washington, D.C., to present findings of recent RAND research and to address additional facets of this complex issue, including the pros and cons of proposed modifications to TRIA. This conference brought together stakeholders to not only discuss the varying implications of TRIA’s expiration, modification, and extension, but also to frame how it is debated in the halls of Congress and across the country.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — September 2014

September 26, 2014 Comments off

Think Tank Review — September 2014 (PDF)
Source: EU Council Library

Think tank publication activity did not cease during the summer. This double issue of the TTR carries content on Brexit, separatist pressures, banking union, economic governance, energy and much more, including, predictably, Franco-German relations and, less predictably, Google searches in Finland (!). Energy security in relation to the Ukraine conflict is obviously a key concern. Also noteworthy is a series of analyses on security issues, from defence industry to cyber-security, published around the time of the NATO summit in Cardiff. The European Council’s new Strategic Guidelines in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice received critical attention, as did the energy aspects of the June European Council. The recent elections and nominations to the top EU offices triggered a number of broad policy or strategy recommendations, and various reviews of possible institutional reforms.

Also noteworthy, this month, is a particularly rich selection of Regards croisés across Member State borders.

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence
Source: RAND Corporation

All roads lead to Damascus and then back out again, but in different directions. The financial and military aid flowing into Syria from patrons and neighbors is intended to determine the outcome of the conflict between a loose confederation of rebel factions and the regime in Damascus. Instead, this outside support has the potential to perpetuate the existing civil war and to ignite larger regional hostilities between Sunni and Shia areas that could reshape the political geography of the Middle East. This report examines the main factors that are likely to contribute to or impede the spread of violence from civil war and insurgency in Syria, and then examines how they apply to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan.

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