Climate and Energy Program News

project team in front of capitol

Farms and Forests: The Future of Federal Climate Policy?

Three Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' researchers are partnering on a Bass Connections project that explores how the Mid-Century Decarbonization Strategy could be turned into concrete policy for U.S. forests and agriculture. Student team member, Alex Rudee, discusses that work to develop policy proposals for carbon sequestration in U.S. forests, agricultural lands and wetlands in a new blog post

Ways Forward for Duke on Climate Neutrality

“The university can lead by not just focusing on reducing emissions but by emphasizing things that catalyze change outside the university,” said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions during a climate forum on Duke's progress toward its commitment to becoming climate neutral by 2024. The forum explored the major steps still to be taken toward the goal. The most promising of steps include fueling on-campus steam plants with directed biogas from North Carolina swine farms.

Hog Waste In NC Has Been A Relatively Untapped Fuel Source. Until Now.

NPR reports that the North Carolina biogas industry began with a promise by Duke University, citing a 2013 study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions that found the directed biogas approach could lower the cost of swine biogas to as little as 5 cents a kilowatt hour, which is roughly the same price as solar power. Duke University is interested in lowering the price of renewable natural gas because it has a goal of bringing all its emissions to zero by 2024. 

Kate Konschnick Portrait with Quote

Expert Available for Comment on Virginia Carbon Emission Regulations

The public comment period for Virginia’s draft regulations to cut carbon emissions from power plants ends April 9. The draft plan aims to cap emissions from the state’s electricity sector beginning in 2020 and to reduce them 30 percent by 2030.

New Grants Will Advance Collaborative Research by 11 Groups of Duke Faculty

Nicholas Institute staff members are among six groups of Duke faculty that have been awarded multiyear Research Collaboratory grants. Part of the Together Duke academic strategic plan, these new grant opportunities provide flexible, immediate resources to strengthen Duke’s intellectual communities and help research groups move forward on both fundamental inquiry and solutions for real-world problems. Recipients include the Nicholas Institute’s Billy Pizer for the project Decisions, Risks, and Governance Geoengineering; and Martin Doyle and Amy Pickle for Innovations in Infrastructure.  

Marc Edwards, Scientific Crusader Who Exposed the Flint Water Crisis to Speak on April 9

Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor whose investigative science and advocacy helped expose the Flint Water Crisis, will present a free public lecture at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment on Monday, April 9. Edwards’ talk, “Truth-Seeking in an Age of Tribalism: Lessons from the Flint Water Crisis,” will be at 6 p.m. at Love Auditorium in the Levine Science Research Center on Duke’s West Campus. It is the 2018 Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship in the Environment and Society. Other sponsors of this year’s Ferguson Lecture include the School of Law, Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Crossing Boundaries to Meet Our Energy Needs

Duke University has become a force in energy research, education, and engagement. Philanthropy from donors has continued the momentum of cultivating collaboration among more than 100 different kinds of energy researchers and cross-training students as energy innovators. Recently, electric utility Duke Energy’s former CEO Jim Rogers and his wife, M.A., gave $1.5 million to found the Energy Access Project, a partnership between the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Duke University Energy Initiative, Sanford School of Public Policy, the Nicholas School of the Environment and Bass Connections at Duke. Faculty, staff and students across disciplines seek to develop actionable solutions to the challenge of the billions of people worldwide living with little to no access to electricity or lacking access to modern cooking technologies. “Whether and how the billions of people on the planet lacking modern energy gain access to it in the coming years has massive implications for global security, public health, and the environment,” said the Nicholas Institute's Jonathan Phillips, director of the Energy Access Project. “Duke’s full engagement on this issue is a shining example for how its service to society and interdisciplinary collaboration missions are coming together to develop solutions to one of the hardest, most important challenges of our time.”

Study by Konschnik Among Journal's Most Significant of 2017

An article on underground natural gas storage facilities published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and co-authored by Kate Konschnik, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, was among the journal's top 30 articles of 2017. The articles in the "Highlights of 2017" collection were chosen on the basis of reviewer and editor endorsement, significance, scientific impact, and breadth of appeal.

Companies Hope to Turn Trash into Treasure

More and more consumers are worrying about the environment, and companies are taking note. According to a 2015 Nielsen study, 58 percent of people willing to pay more for a product were influenced by a brand being environmentally friendly. This ecological purchasing influence coincides with many new companies making innovative products with recycled material. Although it's hard to know definitively if these two trends are linked, Billy Pizer, a professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke and a faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, tells Yahoo Finance that companies increasingly appeal to consumers' environmentally friendly nature. "[Consumers] just care more about the environment," Pizer said. "Environmental problems are more palpable now than they were 10 or 15 years ago." 

President Xi Supersizes Environmental Agency ($)

China has consolidated and strengthened its environmental regulatory bureaucracy in a "superagency," a move environmentalists say will support its domestic greenhouse gas rules and help deliver China's current commitment to the Paris climate accord. The change came last week as part of an overhaul of China's government aimed at elevating the priorities of President Xi Jinping, who recently became president for life. The government hopes to complete it this year. Jackson Ewing, a senior fellow with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, told a ClimateWire that Xi's objective in making the change was to signal again that China is entering a period of "cleaner, more balanced growth ... not as solely focused on economic growth, but rather on some steady but important environmental advances as part of his mandate and part of what he wants his legacy to be."