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Climate Accord and the Clean Power Plan

The United States and more than 150 other nations signed an agreement at the United Nations last week committing to lower greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama’s role in lobbying countries to sign on was bolstered by his own Clean Power Plan, which aims to limit emissions from existing power plants in the U.S., except a Supreme Court ruling recently put that plan on hold. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Director Tim Profeta discusses where the effort to slow climate change goes from here on BYU Radio's Top of Mind.

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States Still Thinking about CO2 Cuts Regardless of Rule Status ($)

Energy and environment officials from around the country are still considering opportunities to cut greenhouse gases from the electricity sector, regardless of the legal status of the Clean Power Plan. At a discussion among state regulators and lawmakers yesterday, several officials said the Supreme Court's decision in February to stay implementation of the federal climate regulation has not blocked broader discussions within states about decarbonizing their power sectors. In ClimateWire, Alexandra Dunn, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States, says that groups like the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions are filling the intellectual policy discussion void, knowing that "the reality is, in about a year, the teacher may reschedule the exam."

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University Offers Support for Third-Party Energy Sales with Open Letter to State Representative

A Duke letter, supporting the legalization of third-party energy sales in North Carolina, states that the university has made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024 through “internal operational changes, community-wide initiatives, investments in innovative offsets with public and private partners and working with our electricity supplier to encourage reductions in emissions over time.” Nicholas Institute Director Tim Profeta told The Chronicle that Duke's largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions result from transportation and power usage on campus. To work toward a net zero carbon footprint, he said, the university created the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative to invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions elesewhere.

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EPA Air Chief McCabe to Address Meeting of State Regulators ($)

In a rundown of upcoming events linked to the story about McCabe, E&E publishing mentions that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative meets in Boston on Friday for a spring stakeholder meeting. That afternoon, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Resources for the Future, the Georgetown Climate Center and the Collaborative for RGGI Progress will present a learning session on the RGGI program's cost-containment reserve, which introduces new carbon allowances when prices reach a certain point. 

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Cutting Coal: The Southeast's Climate Success Story

Ten years ago, King Coal reigned supreme. The Southeast’s electric companies operated 246 coal-fired power plants and planned to build another nine units. Today, utilities plan to retire or have already retired 126 of those coal-fired units, and they have shelved plans for seven of the proposed units. In Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Climate and Energy Program Director Jonas Monast offers reasons why: “There are basically three driving forces behind this trend: changes in technology, changes in economics, and changes in regulation over the past few years,” he told the magazine.

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Maryland Creates Jobs While Fighting Climate Change

Voice of America reports on Maryland's role in the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The program charges power plants for their carbon dioxide emissions and funnels revenue from those sales into efficiency programs, renewable energy, reduction of consumers' electric bills and more. "These types of policies are neither job creators or destroyers. They're job shifters," Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told Voice of America. And at the price RGGI puts on carbon dioxide emissions, currently around $5 per ton, "the net impact on the economy is just about indiscernible. It's not leading to massive surges in employment growth or massive surges in unemployment." Those prices are expected to rise as the program tightens greenhouse gas allowances. "Will this put a crimp on economic activity? Most economic modeling suggests no," Murray said. "But only experience will bear this out."

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U.N. Climate Deal: Are we Done?

In the largest ever single-day turn-out for a signing ceremony, more than 170 governments on April 22 signed the Paris Agreement, which has a goal of limiting average surface temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Voice of America asked experts if the agreement solves climate change globally. Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, says the real test is “whether the countries will actually take action."In the largest ever single-day turn-out for a signing ceremony, more than 170 governments on April 22 signed the Paris Agreement, which has a goal of limiting average surface temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Voice of America asked experts if the agreement solves climate change globally. Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, says the real test is “whether the countries will actually take action."

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A “Nest” for Your Lawn

The Duke Smart Home's new "Smart Lawn" experiment ventures to design a system that, on a small scale, will determine what Duke’s live-in student laboratory needs for its lawn. The Nicholas Institute's Lydia Olander is among the collaborators working to ensure it will inform the optimal management of the Smart Home’s water cistern, irrigation systems, types of crops and lawns, and fertilization schedule. The goal is to optimize the retention of nutrients and the use of water and other materials and maximize the related ecosystem services. 

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News Tip: Experts Available for Comment on Paris Climate Agreement Signing

More than 100 governments are expected to take part in a signing ceremony for the Paris climate agreement on Earth Day (April 22). Two Duke experts are available for comment.

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Water for Food Institute Names New Director

Peter McCornick, a senior fellow at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an internationally recognized expert in sustainable water management, will be become executive director of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute (WFI) at the University of Nebraska, September 1. McCornick has led research and development efforts on water, agriculture, and the environment in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, and focuses on water and food security, the water-food-energy nexus, water reuse, irrigation management, and water and climate adaptation.

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