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.

Robert Powelson Speaks at PJM Workshop

Workshops Help Decision Makers Navigate Complex Electricity Sector Landscape

As the U.S. electricity sector continues to undergo market shifts, grid operators in the competitive wholesale electricity markets are responding to those changes in a variety of ways.  Their decisions have far-reaching impacts for states, utilities, merchant generators, new energy technologies, and consumers. Many of these interests have found help navigating the uncharted territory with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

News Tip: Experts Available for Comment on Clean Power Plan Replacement

The Trump administration unveiled a draft plan today that would replace the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Nicholas Institute experts are available to comment.

Jackson Ewing Portrait

Carbon Markets with Chinese Characteristics: An Interview with Jackson Ewing

Over the past ten years, the number of carbon-pricing initiatives, such as taxes and trading schemes, has grown steadily as countries seek ways to lower carbon emissions. China in particular has garnered global attention for its emissions trading programs in major cities across the country and the launch of the first phase of its nationwide carbon market in December 2017. In a Q&A with the National Bureau of Asian Research, Jackson Ewing a senior fellow at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an adjunct associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, discusses the challenges and opportunities for Chinese policymakers as they seek to implement a nationally integrated emissions trading system. 

Duke Donors Give $517 Million to Further University Priorities

More than 108,000 donors gave $517 million in gifts to Duke University during the last fiscal year, supporting priorities ranging from financial aid to research. Areas that received significant new commitments in 2017-18 included interdisciplinary education and research. Among those new commitments was a $1.5 million gift from former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and his wife, M.A. Rogers, to launch a project focused on accelerating the deployment of sustainable energy and empowering the world through expanded energy access.

Bass Connections Course Offers Unique Opportunity to Explore Global Climate Change Negotiations

Billy Pizer, faculty fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is a faculty sponsor for the the U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum, a Bass Connections course that examines the negotiation of international climate change agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Applications for the course—offering a unique opportunity for Duke students to gain hands-on, applied experience learning about international climate policy and the negotiations process—are due August 15.

Comprehensive Study: Carbon Taxes won't Hamper the Economy

An article in The Guardian highlights a special issue in the journal Energy Economics featuring carbon tax modeling studies conducted through the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum Project. The issue includes an overview of the results co-authored by Brian Murray of the Duke University Energy Initiative and a faculty affiliate at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an article on carbon tax implications for market trends and generation costs by my Nicholas Institute colleague Martin Ross. Comparison of the modeling studies’ results revealed similar conclusions: that a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution, although the structure of the tax and rate at which it rises are important, and that a revenue-neutral carbon tax would have a modest impact on gross domestic product. Even the most ambitious carbon tax was found to be consistent with long-term positive economic growth.