Research InterestsGeopolitical Research, International Agreements and International Trade
Saleh was a Research Associate in the Policy and Decision Science program. His interests lie in geopolitical research, international agreements and international trade. Saleh holds a master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and a B.S. degree in Economics from Pennsylvania State University.
This paper evaluates the evolving political will in Japan to restart nuclear power plants to generate electric power, in light of the country’s political and economic developments over the past few years. We apply a model of collective decision-making processes (CDMPs), using the KAPSARC Toolkit for Behavioral Analysis (KTAB), to simulate the interactions among different interest groups including policymakers, national and local political leaders, electricity companies, and the public, given their varying interests, goals and priorities.
It is widely recognized that the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement fall short of achieving the 2 degrees Celsius global warming target, agreed as the central goal of the agreement and its parties. Given this, KAPSARC has set out to explore the political feasibility of enhancing nationally determined contributions by utilizing the KAPSARC Toolkit for Behavioral Analysis (KTAB).
This paper explores the value of explicitly integrating the modeling of political concerns into a model of energy market projections. This is achieved by assessing the impact on global gas markets of political constraints on restarting Japanese nuclear reactors. The 2018 KAPSARC discussion paper cited above utilized the KAPSARC Toolkit for Behavioral Analysis (KTAB) to determine the political will for such a policy decision.
This study assesses whether there are politically plausible paths to more quickly gain support for restarting Japanese nuclear power plants and considers alternative scenarios. It builds on the 2018 KAPSARC discussion paper, “The Policymaking Process to Restart Japanese Nuclear Power,” which detailed a baseline scenario for the political feasibility of restarting Japanese nuclear power plants.
Article 4.19 of the 2015 Paris Agreement calls on signatories to formulate and communicate “long-term low greenhouse gas development strategies,” widely known as the mid-century strategy (MCS). Any enhancement of the European Union’s (EU’s) targets in its MCS depends on a new long-term EU climate policy subject to ongoing negotiations between member states. The EU submits one nationally determined contribution (NDC) for all 28 member states, likely soon to be 27 following the proposed departure of the United Kingdom (U.K.) from the EU (Brexit). In 2011 the European Commission outlined an indicative 80% emissions reduction target in its 2050 low carbon economy roadmap compared to 1990 levels. In a move away from a target-centered approach, the European Commission’s most recent communication entitled “A Clean Planet for all – A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy” calls for carbon neutrality by 2050 but avoids any mention of targets. It instead outlines scenarios that offer policy pathways for EU member states. This paper shows that in mid-2018, EU members were unwilling to commit to higher targets, which could provide an insight into what was an unexpected shift in European Commission policy.
The Japanese government’s decision to continue restarting nuclear power is shaped by a combination of domestic political concerns, energy security challenges, and its ability to meet climate change commitments and targets. Nuclear power plants have started to come back online, but there is still a question regarding the scope and timing for restarting the remaining reactors. In this paper, we apply a model of collective decision-making processes (CDMPs) to assess the political will for restarting nuclear power plants in Japan. We find that:
There is growing political will among Japanese stakeholders to restart nuclear reactors for power generation. Over the next several years, the current political trajectory indicates political acceptance of nuclear power among municipal and prefecture political leaders, who are currently the most significant and consequential opponents to nuclear power. Local governments have the ability to block the restart of nuclear power plants.
The process of regaining national support for nuclear power in Japan is expected to take several years of domestic political debate.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) appears to be a credible and effective voice in building political acceptance of restarting nuclear power plants, given enough time. However, it is important that the NRA maintains its role as an unbiased and fact-based entity, to maintain its credibility with opponents to nuclear power.
Despite the turbulence in Japanese politics in 2017, the trend of slowly growing political will in favor of nuclear power appears to be largely unchanged.
OPEC oil production data is a key to understanding not just global energy balances but also the international oil market. Historically, most OPEC oil production figures are opaque as governments either consider them to be confidential and do not publish the data or publish numbers that many analysts consider to be unreliable. The OPEC Secretariat publishes production data on the basis of estimates produced by ‘secondary sources.’ These include S&P Global Platts, Argus Media, Energy Intelligence Group, IHS-Markit, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Even though the OPEC Secretariat makes it clear that its data comes from such secondary sources, its production figures are often mistaken as primary data.
Secondary sources play a critical function in collating OPEC oil production data that is widely used by international oil markets and by the OPEC Secretariat itself.
The methodology used by these data providers to collect oil production data varies little between organizations and includes a mix of confidential sources, government statistics, shipping and port data, and tanker tracking information.
The robustness of data published by secondary sources varies by country and secondary source, with production from some OPEC countries such as Iran particularly opaque.
Tanker tracking techniques using Automatic Identification System monitoring and satellite imagery are still in their infancy and do not provide sufficiently robust data to give an alternative to secondary sources.
Although much of the data secondary sources collate is unverifiable, there are currently no alternative sources or methodologies that are more robust.
The European Union (EU) is facing a critical period as the European Commission draws up a 2050 climate strategy roadmap that is likely to form the basis for the EU’s next nationally determined contribution to the COP21 Paris Agreement. Until recently, the UK was the undisputed leader of the coalition of EU member states (the Green Growth Group) seeking more ambitious climate targets. Brexit, however, is likely to put an end to the UK-driven focus on market instruments to achieve climate targets. Instead, the Commission is now likely to turn to policies prioritizing emissions and energy targets.
The United Kingdom (UK) exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) is likely to strengthen the resolve of the EU to maintain global leadership at the Conference of Parties (COP).
Brexit is likely to contribute a changed approach toward climate policy from a focus on market instruments to policy targets.
A struggle has emerged for leadership within the Green Growth Group, with many coalition members seeking more ambitious climate targets.
Despite some changes in governments, the national climate position of EU member states remains stable.
Poland, perhaps supported by other coal-dependent countries, is likely to remain an obstacle to more ambitious EU climate targets.
Countries in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, commonly known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), established a regional power grid to support member countries’ high voltage networks in 2001 but, to date, the system has remained underutilized. The intended purpose of the grid was to provide backup electricity during emergencies caused by power system outages, especially during the summer, and to share spinning reserves, optimize capital investments in electricity and reduce fuel costs. The grid has been fully operational since 2011 and has satisfied its intended purpose. However, GCC member states have largely failed to take advantage of options associated with the grid to trade electricity. This paper uses the KAPSARC Toolkit for Behavioral Analysis platform, a model of collective decision-making processes developed at KAPSARC, to examine the political feasibility of expanding the utilization of the GCC grid to include trading electricity.
Following the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3, as a result of a United States (U.S.) airstrike, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution stating that it “must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”
The Paris Agreement entered into force in November 2016 and, to date, 187 parties have ratified it (UFCCC). The Agreement’s goal is to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (°C) above] pre-industrial levels. The Agreement established what has been dubbed an ‘ambition mechanism,’ where every five years nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are reassessed and enhanced — with the first round of refinements expected in 2020. A number of studies, most notably the United Nations Environment Programme report, conclude that current NDCs will not achieve the objectives of the Agreement (UNEP 2018). While technical obstacles to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement remain, political barriers further convolute the discussion. Clearly more needs to be done, and further political accommodations will be required globally to significantly enhance and subsequently implement more ambitious contributions that might achieve the promise of the Paris Agreement. However, before progress can be made on an international level, the main polluting countries must focus on internal, domestic consensus to develop robust efforts to reduce emissions. Uncertainty remains about whether there is, or will ever be, sufficient political will to meet the 2°C target.