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  • Author: Nicola De Blasio, Charles Hua, Alejandro Nuñez-Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The transportation sector is the second-largest source of CO2 emissions, after electricity and heat generation, accounting for about 25 percent of global emissions.1 However, it is also one of the most challenging to decarbonize due to its distributed nature and the advantages of fossil fuels in terms of high energy densities, ease of transportation, and storage. Moreover, the degree of difficulty in decarbonizing varies significantly across the sector, making the challenge even more daunting. So far, emissions reduction strategies have focused on improving vehicle and system-wide efficiencies, mode switching, and electrification. The latter is proving relatively easy for smaller vehicles that travel shorter distances and carry lighter loads. However, sector-wide decarbonization pathways will require a transition to low-carbon fuels and the deployment of enabling infrastructure to support innovation at scale. Renewable hydrogen holds promise in sustainable mobility applications, whether by powering fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) like cars, trucks, and trains or as a feedstock for synthetic fuels for ships and airplanes. Fuel cells convert hydrogen-rich fuels into electricity through a chemical reaction. FCEVs use a fuel cell, rather than a battery, to power electric motors, and operate near-silently and produce no tailpipe emissions. Hydrogen-powered vehicles offer key advantages, including shorter refueling times, longer ranges, and a lower material footprint compared to lithium battery-powered alternatives. However, high costs of ownership and a lack of enabling infrastructure are key challenges that must be addressed through policy support, technological innovation, and financial investment. Hydrogen can complement existing efforts to electrify road and rail transportation and provide a scalable option for decarbonizing shipping and aviation. Figure 1 summarizes the mobility segments for which battery electric vehicles (BEVs), FCEVs, and vehicles running on bio- or hydrogen-based synthetic fuels are most applicable.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, Transportation, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicola De Blasio, Fridolin Pflugmann, Henry Lee
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Clean hydrogen is experiencing unprecedented momentum as confidence in its ability to accelerate decarbonization efforts across multiple sectors is rising. New projects are announced almost every week. For example, an international developer, Intercontinental Energy, plans to build a plant in Oman that will produce almost 2 million tons of clean hydrogen and 10 million tons of clean ammonia.1 Dozens of other large-scale projects and several hundred smaller ones are already in the planning stage. Similarly, on the demand side, hydrogen is gaining support from customers. Prominent off-takers such as oil majors like Shell and bp, steelmakers like ThyssenKrupp, and world-leading ammonia producers like Yara are working on making a clean hydrogen economy a reality. Despite the optimism surrounding clean hydrogen, key uncertainties remain. One of hydrogen’s attractions is that it can provide carbon-free energy in multiple sectors—transport, heating, industry, and electricity generation. But this advantage also creates uncertainties. The infrastructure needed in an economy in which hydrogen is primarily used as a transport fuel is very different from one in which its primary value is as a heating fuel. Today no major hydrogen pipeline networks exist,2 and no liquified hydrogen ships are in commercial operation. There is a true chicken and egg problem. If there is no infrastructure to move hydrogen, will investments in supply and demand happen at the pace needed to meet national decarbonization targets? This challenge raises an even more pressing question: what should be the respective roles of the public and private sectors in deploying enabling infrastructure at scale?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thomas G. Mahnken, Grace B. Kim
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: On NATO’s entire Eastern and South-Eastern flank, the Allies face a major, pressing and subtle challenge. Using sub-conventional grey zone tactics, Moscow has repeatedly tried, and at times succeeded, in expanding its influence, eroding international norms, undermining the rules-based in- ternational order, and shifting the balance of power in its favour. Preventing Russia from launching such op- portunistic acts of aggression is particularly import- ant because its armed forces are developing the ability to attack quickly – under the cover of increasingly capable defences – countries on their periphery in a clear effort to impose a fait accompli.1 NATO countries are at a particular disadvantage in this type of compe- tition. Their force structures consist of expensive and technologically complex information-gathering platforms, such as satellites and manned aircraft, which due to their high costs are also scarce and employed with reluctance by states who generally hesitate to put them in harm’s way. Additionally, the prohibitively high cost of these platforms deters some countries from investing in these types of capabilities. As debates within NATO about cash, capabilities and contributions continue to hold the stage, highlighting Allies’ needs for different types of capabilities – less expensive, more resilient, and relatively more disposable – is important.2 Equal- ly critical is the need for Allies to develop new concepts of operations as well as new organi-zations to employ them effectively. The solution may not involve fielding exotic new capabilities so much as employing existing ones in innovative ways. It will also benefit greatly from approaches that allow Allies and partners to participate fully. If we do not adapt, we risk being surprised by potentially catastrophic events in a future conflict.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, Eastern Europe, North America, Southern Europe
  • Author: Olivier Rittimann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: What is commonly known as the “Ber- lin Plus” arrangements, signed in March 2003, provides for the European Union (EU) to draw upon NATO’s assets and capabilities for operations in which the Alliance would not be militarily involved. Following lengthy delays incurred by the Cyprus question, it was only as of 2003 that the agreement was successfully implemented with the transfer of operations from NATO to the EU in both the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2003) and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina (2004). The Berlin Plus agreement guarantees EU access to NATO planning capabilities, which contribute to EU- led military operations through the identification of command options, procedures for release and recall of NATO assets and capabilities, and the exchange of classified intelligence under reciprocal security protection rules. At the end of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (1999), the EU had no defence staff fit to plan nor conduct an operation, and it is only fifteen years ago that member states established national Operation Headquarters (OHQ), which nations make available for EU operations, as was done in 2006 in the Demo- cratic Republic of Congo and in 2007 in Chad. At the end of the 1990s, the Berlin Plus proposal made em- inent sense: it prevented any duplication (by the EU) of assets and fostered the emergence of a European operational culture. But is the Arrangement still fit for purpose almost 20 years later?
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Andris Banka
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: In recent years NATO has markedly increased its presence in the Baltic states. Relatively “light”, yet highly diverse multinational forces have been placed across the Alliance’s frontline with an underly- ing objective: to deter Russia. In this effort, the United States has served as a critical ballast. The Pentagon has directed sophisticated military exercises and rotated US service members throughout the region. These mea- sures, however, often did not align with US President Donald Trump’s spoken words nor written tweets. This obvious dichotomy disoriented Allied governments and shook bedrock assumptions about US security commitments. As political power changes hands in Washington, this lends an opportunity for a retooling of the transatlantic partnership. Domestically, incoming US President Joe Biden ran on the platform “Build Back Better”. In the spirit of that slogan, this Policy Brief lays out policy cor- rectives that both sides of the Atlantic could pursue to strengthen the US-Baltic security link.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Marcin Zaborowski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The post-Cold War enlargements have changed the Alliance, its geopolitics and the definition of its purpose, which is no longer limited to deterring against threats to Allies’ territory. Enlarge- ments have also redefined the security and defence policies of the new member states, by transforming their armed forces, civil military relationships and im- pacting their defence industries. The states that joined NATO since 1989 are usually categorized as Central Europe or Central and East- ern Europe. Within this Central European realm of new member states, one can distinguish between the North-East, the Centre, the South-East, and the West- ern Balkans. All states in these groupings were com- munist prior to the end of the Cold War. Today, with the Cold War fast becoming a faded memory, Central Europeans tend to define their security needs with in- creasing divergence, with major repercussions on their defence policies, in spite of their belonging to the same Alliance. This Policy Brief maps out Central Europe by identifying groups of states in the region and looking at defence policy divergences. It focuses on a number of indicators, such as defence spending, acquisition of defence equipment and attitudes towards hosting for- eign NATO troops on their soil.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Post Cold War
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Heather A Conley
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: The 1949 Washington Treaty is a remarkably brief document consisting of a preamble and 14 articles. The Treaty describes only the po- litical commitments and obligations of the signato- ries. It does not articulate a requirement for NATO members to spend a certain amount of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense nor does it specify the military capabilities that a NATO member must possess to defend the Alliance. From 1949 to the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO was the singular locus of geopolitical discus- sion between North America and Europe. These were not easy discussions, yet the Alliance weathered strident policy and geopolitical policy differences. NATO also endured its members temporarily ceasing to be democracies due to military coups or concern about Communist influence on NATO governments. With a political body standing on the shoulders of a credible military deterrence, Allies were able to deploy creative problem-solving skills to bridge political dif- ferences, such as the policy innovation of deterrence and détente, while pursuing other, quieter methods, such as the temporary suspension of sharing sensitive intelligence from compromised NATO governments. Unfortunately, NATO’s centrality as a political forum greatly diminished after the Cold War as the Alliance reduced its political consultations in a less demanding geopolitical environment. Despite occa- sional interruptions of intense political discussion re- lated to conflict in the Balkans and the September 11th attacks, US retrenchment, combined with Europe’s inward focus, minimized NATO as a political forum. NATO was increasingly consumed by tactical decisions on out-of-area operations and transatlantic policy divisions over the Iraq War which fueled both Europe’s desire for greater autonomy and America’s questioning of the military utility of its Allies. NATO leaders substituted tactical – albeit important – military decisions regard- ing troop contributions, placement, and caveats as a substitute for political discussion. This political drift has now become so great that NATO members have begun to withhold support for the defensive planning of other Allies and new disputes between NATO members have the potential to escalate.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Michael Clarke
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: NATO has always been an important player in global politics. It is in the nature of the Alli- ance that its essential military missions were always carefully defined and its geographical boundar- ies strictly set by the collective defence commitments among its members. Nevertheless, NATO’s role as a politico-military institution among the great powers of the Cold War ensured it would always be global- ly significant. It could not have been otherwise. This remains as much the case – though now in different ways – as we consider the international environment taking shape for the 2030s. In this new environment the unavoidable global responsibilities of being a regional military alliance can be summarised in three ways; looking at NATO’s role in helping western powers defend their wider interests in the multi-polar world; helping meet the pseudo-ideological challenges posed by the rise of autocracies; and contributing to issues of the “global commons”.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Olivier Roy
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Any counter-terrorist policy should be shaped according to the nature of the threat. For an alliance like NATO, it is particularly import- ant to distinguish the fundamental characteristics of global movements from local terrorist entities. Whilst global jihadi propaganda and Islamist ideology still represent a significant danger, in many instances, it is the local dynamics that prevail. Complex NATO operations – designed to prevent, stabilize or rebuild – must be framed and designed accordingly.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Globalization, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Radicalization, Local, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America
  • Author: Andrea Gilli
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Under the guidance of the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in 2020 NATO embarked on a reflection process aimed at equipping the Alliance for the challenges of 2030.1 Composed of several parts, actors and phases, the process ul- timately aims to make NATO more relevant in the years ahead when technological disruption, climate change, competition among Great Powers and vio- lent non-state actors will pose new and major threats. Ideas, proposals, and recommendations are coming in from within and from outside the Alliance. Inter- estingly, among the recommendations, several voices have called for NATO to expand its net assessment capabilities.2 For most observers, even in the security and defence world, net assessment is an esoteric word. While many may have heard of Andrew Marshall and the US Department of Defense’s Office of Net As- sessment, most would probably struggle to define the term. This Policy Brief provides a short introduction to the topic: what is net assessment, how and why has it emerged, how reliable is it and how could NATO use it?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Leadership
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America