Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Climate and Energy Program

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 collaborate with researchers at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Duke University Energy Initiative at the 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.

Issues

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Carbon Pricing

Carbon pricing is a market-based method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Governments implement carbon pricing in two main forms—a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax or fee.

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Energy Access

With nearly a third of humanity lacking reliable electricity and 3 billion people without clean fuels and technologies for cooking, energy access represents one of the greatest challenges of our time.

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Energy Efficiency

The purpose of energy efficiency is to reduce the amount of energy required to maintain or improve functionality and comfort while lowering customer cost.

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Future of Utility Regulation

The U.S. electricity sector is undergoing rapid change wrought by low natural gas prices, falling costs for renewables, and evolving environmental standards.

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Oil and Gas

Encroachment of oil and gas development into human and ecological habitats requires community engagement and meaningful discussions about the protection of important natural and cultural resources.

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Transmission and Power Markets

More than two-thirds of electricity customers in the United States are served by competitive wholesale electricity markets known as Regional Transmission Organizations.