Climate and Energy Program

No single solution exists to address the demand for global energy, which the International Energy Agency forecasts will grow one-third by 2035.

Meeting the energy needs of a growing population, while protecting the air and environment surrounding us, is the chief focus of the Climate and Energy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. By utilizing the interdisciplinary resources available at Duke University, the Nicholas Institute’s Climate and Energy Program is assessing how policies can work together and weighing their tradeoffs through a number of projects at the state, federal, and international level.

Work in the program focuses on how the legal and regulatory landscape must adapt to a dynamic electricity sector and how investments made today will influence environmental and economic outcomes in 2050. For example, program staff are working with a number of stakeholders, including stakeholders in the PJM Interconnection—one of several regional transmission organizations that coordinate the movement of wholesale electricity—to sort through rapid change in the electricity sector driven by factors like historically low natural gas prices, dramatic reductions in the cost of renewable energy, and new evolving environmental regulations. In addition, program staff are collaborating with researchers at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Duke University Energy Initiative to convene this year’s North Carolina Leadership Forum, focusing on North Carolina’s energy future.

Work by the program also looks forward to next steps in U.S. climate policy, including assessment of opportunities under the existing Clean Air Act and changes to the Clean Air Act that could enable more comprehensive regulation. Beyond the Clean Air Act regulatory framework, work at the Nicholas Institute examines carbon tax schemes across the world, assessing their environmental integrity cost-effectiveness, distributional equity, and fundamental design.