Research InterestsEnergy transition, climate change and oil markets
Paul was a research fellow in the Policy and Decision Sciences program. He is a former journalist and energy market analyst with over 25 years of experience in international energy markets. He opened the first Gulf Cooperation Council bureau for the oil price reporting agency S&P Global Platts in Dubai in 1989 and later launched the first regional office for Argus Media. Paul has attended numerous OPEC meetings and written extensively about the oil industry in publications such as Platts Oilgram News, Argus Global Markets, and the Petroleum Economist. He was also the senior advisor to the Secretary-General at the World Energy Council (WEC).
India’s greenhouse gas emissions have grown along with its rapid economic growth, making it the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the United States. Under the Paris Agreement, India has committed to reduce its emissions intensity relative to its GDP by 33-35% by 2030, compared with its 2005 level. In this study, we assess the evolving political will to enhance India’s stated commitment to combat climate change.
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.
This paper describes the current governance structure of China’s energy sector.
The interplay between central government, the Communist Party, regional governments and key economic actors within the framework of China’s five-year planning processes are complex and constantly evolving. As such, the structure and processes for energy governance are similarly complex. The oversight and process for governing China’s energy sector will continue to change as the country transitions from an emerging to a mature economy.
This paper provides an overview of how key decisions in the energy sector are currently made, implemented and monitored in China as the country is consolidating its policy and decision making processes.
The paper’s aim is to provide insights for those outside China who wish to better understand Chinese energy governance, from policymakers, researchers and academics, to diplomats, or corporations wishing to invest in the country.
As an emerging economy, a major part of India’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement is an emissions intensity target. With its current policies, India is on track to achieve its climate targets under the Agreement. However, the Indian government is balancing a complicated set of domestic priorities and constraints against its wish to be seen as a global leader on climate change. This paper, based on field research in India, outlines the key findings from a set of interviews regarding the implementation and enhancement of India’s NDC:
Coal is still the cheapest source of baseload electricity in India and will continue to be its main fuel source for electricity.
India is constrained in its ability to prioritize climate change objectives by the need to expand energy access and for low-cost energy.
India would like to be seen as a leader on climate change, particularly when compared to other emerging economies such as China, whose targets are treated as a benchmark. This wish is balanced against its need to continue its economic expansion.
India tends to take a conservative approach to international commitments.
The Prime Minister of India has the final say on climate policy matters, but consults with and is advised by a small number of actors in his Council on Climate Change. Think tanks play a major supporting role in climate policymaking.
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.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has said it wishes to transition toward a less carbon-intensive energy system, both as part of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and as one of a number of investments in ‘green’ research and development, technology and power generation. However, given the complexity of the UAE political system, which requires consensus among seven relatively sovereign and independent emirates, as well as commercial and financial interests, it is not immediately clear which policy instruments that might drive the UAE energy transition will prove acceptable and politically plausible. Here, we apply the KAPSARC Toolkit for Behavioral Analysis (KTAB) platform, a model of collective decision-making processes (CDMPs), to assess the political will to agree to and to implement an array of different policy alternatives within the current UAE context.
On August 28, 2019, the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a series of amendments to Obama-era environmental regulations covering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that it claims will save the oil and gas industry millions of dollars in compliance costs. However, the measures, part of the Trump administration’s attempt to roll back existing environmental standards, are largely cosmetic and the oil industry has responded with a notable lack of enthusiasm. If anything, they highlight the efforts made in recent years to improve the industry’s GHG emissions.
Presenting India’s 2019 budget on July 5, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sketched out the Modi government’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024, almost doubling the country’s current gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.73 trillion. To achieve this ambitious goal, India plans to liberalize foreign direct investment (FDI) rules and tap international bond markets to fund its budget deficit. The latter is a risky enterprise and ensures exchange rate policy becomes a future battleground. However, India’s economic growth has been slowing over the past two quarters, and the government has limited options to raise funds domestically, forcing it to look at external foreign currency borrowing. The government is betting that external borrowing combined with FDI inflows will lead to greater domestic investment and thus higher growth.
The United Kingdom’s decision to aim for net zero emissions by 2050 and to enshrine it in law raises the bar for global policymakers as the world seeks to limit the impact of climate change. A recent European Commission paper outlined policy pathways toward carbon neutrality by 2050, but European governments are still at loggerheads as to whether to adopt the target. Climate experts highlight the urgency of cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 if global warming is to be restricted to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.