Will John McCain be the Last Republican Leader in the Senate to Address Climate Change?

In The Conversation, Tim Profeta, director of Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, reflects on his time working with John McCain and Joseph Lieberman on climate legislation that helped to seal McCain's legacy as a Republican leading the climate debate.

John McCain's Climate Change Legacy

In an Inside Climate News story about John McCain's legacy, Tim Profeta, who directors Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, discusses the McCain-Lieberman bipartisan fight for cap-and trade. Profeta noted that McCain and Lieberman held up the energy bill for hours until they won an agreement for a floor vote on their Climate Stewardship Act. McCain "had the backbone and authority among his peers to just do it, and he really didn't wilt," recalled Profeta, who, as Lieberman's lead staffer on the legislation, witnessed the tension over the showdown in the Senate cloakroom. "[McCain and Lieberman] both stood up against the leaders of their own parties to demand action on this issue."

Students walking in Kunshan, China - Cui Liu

Course Gives Students Chance to Participate in China Conservation Planning

Duke Kunshan University (DKU) administrators received some help from their own students as they planned the second phase of the Kunshan, China, campus expansion this spring. Three students used skills learned in a course on conservation planning and monitoring led by Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions senior fellow Elizabeth Losos to develop biodiversity recommendations that will be used in the expansion, slated for completion in 2021.

Uganda Village

Meeting the Energy Needs of the World

Access to modern and reliable energy is something that most of the world takes for granted. But many around the world are living a different reality. Across sub-Saharan Africa and India, children often complete homework by the flicker of candles and kerosene lamps as wisps of smoke trickle up around them from the stoking of the fire beneath their cooking stove.The Duke University Energy Access Project aims to help achieve the United Nation’s (U.N.) seventh Sustainable Development Goal, which is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services by 2030. 

EPA Rule Change Could Let Dirtiest Coal Plants Keep Running (and Stay Dirty)

The Trump administration’s proposed rewrite of climate-change regulations could enable some of America’s dirtiest remaining coal plants to be refurbished and keep running for years without adding scrubbers or other modern pollution controls, according to a New York Times article. Kate Konschnik, who directs the Climate and Energy Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, discusses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal, made public this week, to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which was designed to slow the pace of climate change in part by encouraging the retirement of older coal plants and a shift toward greener energy sources.

Is Trump’s Power Plan a Coal Rescue?

Kate Konschnik, who directs the Climate and Energy Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, discussed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Trump administration’s proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan, with BYUradio's Top of Mind host Julie Rose. The rule, proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week, will give states more control over how aggressively they reduce their carbon emissions and what role they want coal to play in that mix. 

North Carolina Leadership Forum Participants (photo by Carr Elliott)

Forum Helps Decision Makers Develop Opinions with Facts

Civil discourse. Imagination. Empathy. Understanding. These are not things that you necessarily think of when people from different political parties and ideologies come together for a discussion. But the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University is changing that one forum at a time. The 2017-2018 forum focused on how the state can best meet its future energy needs, partnering with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy initiative to present the programming.

Students on Field Trip to Hog Farm

Ethics Students Find Power Plant Proposal Sheds Light on Gray Areas of Decision Making

A proposal by the electric operator Duke Energy to site a combined heat and power facility on the Duke University campus became a teachable moment for 10 Duke students in a course on the ethical dimensions of environmental policy. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Kay Jowers, led the course David Toole who holds joint appointments in the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Duke Global Health Institute, and the Duke Divinity School. They saw a ready-made case study of the influence on policy of assumptions about how things should or ought to be in the university’s process for considering the proposal.

Fish Drying, Photo by

The Role of Small-Scale Fisheries in Feeding the World

Small-scale fisheries in coastal and inland communities across the world are a major component of the world’s food system. Despite their contribution to feeding a growing population in both the developed and developing world, the fisheries are often ignored in states’ policymaking, in part because their value has been poorly measured.The Nicholas Institute and the Marine Lab at the Nicholas School of the Environment are working with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WorldFish on a new global study—Illuminating Hidden Harvests: The Contribution of Small-Scale Fisheries to Sustainable Development—that aims to make these fisheries’ contribution better known.

China Skyscrapers by user xijian

Can China’s Development Ambitions and Environmental Protection Priorities Yield a Global Dividend?

More than two years ago at the United Nations Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris, China vowed by 2030 to peak its carbon emissions, make a 60 to 65 percent improvement in the carbon intensity of its economy, and draw at least 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil sources. In 2017, it advanced efforts to make good on that Paris Agreement pledge by creating a national carbon market that when fully implemented could more than double the volume of worldwide carbon emissions covered by a tax or tradable permit policy. And this year it announced its greatest environmental reform in decades—an environmental “super ministry” that could strengthen compliance with its new emissions trading program. But at the same time that China is working to tamp down on pollution at home, it has, in past decades, been seen to be exporting pollution through infrastructure investments in the developing world. Can China’s international development efforts be environmentally sustainable and will its unique approach to emissions trading work? Answering those questions is opening up new research areas and collaboration opportunities in China for Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.