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May 10-11, 2022
London, UK

The Transatlantic Leadership Network Initiative on Climate, Energy, and Security

Introduction

Energy and energy security are vital to contemporary international relations. As a result, issues of climate change, energy security, and sustainable economic development have become increasingly paramount to an effective foreign policy strategy. The tragedy of the commons, resource scarcity, sustainability, efficiency, and the green transition are no longer singular issues to be solved, but now inform and affect a variety of international economic and security issues: maritime security, great power competition, and digitalization, among others.

What has come out of the pandemic is the realization that the global transition to renewables is underway much quicker than previously envisioned. Economic disruptions have demonstrated that even the most successful speculators have difficulty conceptualizing the new normal in the energy field. Climate change will increase the frequency of exogenous shocks, generating unpredictable slowdowns, increased utility costs, and security risks. Nearly 50% of the technologies required to meet net zero by 2050 have yet to be invented. What does the future hold and what does this mean for goals toward decarbonization by 2030 and 2050, as announced by many countries?

Mission Statement

The Transatlantic Leadership Network’s Initiative on Climate, Energy, and Security will examine the geopolitical challenges and market disruptions that environmental shifts bring to transatlantic relations today. With their broad range of experience across energy, business, military, diplomatic, and academic sectors, TLN fellows will produce innovative research, provide practical recommendations to policy makers, and advocate for sustainable solutions to the environmental and security challenges in its regions of focus.

Research Focus

Sustainable and resilient infrastructure: TLN will provide research on global sustainable infrastructure development, and how the construction of such infrastructure influences both international cooperation and economic development. This includes nuclear power and reactors, digital infrastructure, 5G networks, pipelines, geologic storage, heavy industry, and renewable energy projects, among others. The disastrous consequence of grid failure in Texas in February 2021 demonstrated that innovation and sustainability must be complemented with resilience to unpredictable climate events. TLN’s research will investigate how smart grid technology and digitalization of power structures can ensure grid flexibility and survivability in its focus regions.

International relations and natural resources: TLN will expand its current research and analysis on the politics of energy and natural resources. This will include the geopolitics of rare earth elements, natural gas and its storage and transit, and petropolitics. It will also include hydro politics; blue economy industries are moving further offshore and new tidal technology continues to launch to take advantage of hydrokinetic marine energy resources that are abundant, geologically dense, predictable, and complementary to other renewables such as wind and solar. Research must further explore how ocean resource utilization affects maritime security and international relations.

Technological innovation: TLN will examine how new technologies synergize with international cooperation on the environment and climate. Innovation in carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies are essential to meeting decarbonization goals. New generations of nuclear reactors hold much promise for meeting those goals by 2050. Conversion to renewables, smart grids, battery storage, and making wholesale changes to resources and consumption will require significant investment. We must think of “infrastructure investment” in terms of smart technologies and autonomous systems as the next generation of infrastructure. Our research will explore how international cooperation can create commercial viability for the technologies necessary to get the world to net zero.

All research will be informed by the need for nonpartisan solutions to climate change, environmental stewardship, and the green transition. We will initially focus on Southeast Europe, the MENA and Mediterranean Basin regions, and the United States. Additionally, our research will be motivated by the need to expand access to the close to one billion people who still do not have access to modern energy services.

Products

Events: invite-only panel events featuring high-level policy makers, business executives, parliamentarians, and diplomats for conversations on climate, energy, and security.

Podcasts: recorded one-on-one interviews with senior officials and executives, conducted by a TLN senior fellow.

Reports: in-depth research analysis produced by TLN fellows and partnering organizations, hosted on the TLN website.

White papers: short briefs by TLN fellows on specific policy topics, disseminated to government and congressional offices.

Commentary pieces: op-eds placed in both popular and industry-specific media outlets.

Edited volume: a major publication featuring a select group of experts, distributed by the Brookings Institution Press. This will include book launch events.

Methods

Sponsors: TLN will offer sponsorship at an institutional level to businesses and non-governmental organizations who wish to support and be involved with these activities.

Working groups: TLN will establish subject-driven groups with scholars, public servants, and private sector individuals to collaborate on research priorities and distribute research findings at a grassroots level.

Research methodology development: under the direction of TLN senior fellows and working groups, TLN research staff will create specific indexes and indicators that can inform reports and analysis.

Coming Soon (Summer of 2022)

Distributed by the Brookings Institution Press