Q&A: Increasing Emissions Certainty under a Carbon Tax

Some organizations and individuals have expressed interest in a carbon tax as the primary federal policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but such a tax leaves the emissions outcome uncertain. In an issue of the Harvard Environmental Law Review focusing on carbon taxes, three researchers affiliated with Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions examine options for increasing emissions certainty. Brian Murray, Billy Pizer, and Christina Reichert discuss how these options could respond to deviations from identified emissions goals as well as identify the challenges and opportunities associated with different approaches.

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Duke, Durham React to U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

In response to the U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, the city of Durham and Duke University have reaffirmed their commitment to combating climate change. Nicholas Institute faculty fellow Billy Pizer suggested that when national government is less polarized, signals from sub-national actors could begin to shape national policy. “My feeling is that the problem will only be tackled successfully when there is either national-level policy or a large enough number of state-level actors who take action like California and New York," Pizer told the Duke Chronicle. He added that acting without federal coordination states could simply shift emissions to each other without meaningfully reducing emissions. Nicholas Institute Environmental Economics Program director Brian Murray noted that cities can exert economic influence. “Most of the economic activity throughout the world happens in cities,” Murray said. "Individual cities can impose ordinances or have policies or create incentives for companies to act in more climate friendly ways, in addition to using their bully pulpit to say that we don't believe that what the president did is good policy.”

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Paris Accord Withdrawal Divides NC Pols

As an aide to then-Senator Joe Lieberman, the Nicholas Institute’s Tim Profeta helped shape the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, which at the time was considered a symbol of growing bipartisan agreement on climate change policy. Since then, Profeta told StarNews Online, dialogue around climate change has become divisive. “Because of the political dynamic during the Obama Administration, in particular,” he said, “it became much more partisan, and your thoughts about how to address climate change became part of your political identity.” On the state level, Profeta said, North Carolina legislators could effectively address climate goals by continuing to craft policies that encourage investment in renewable resources. Failing to do the same at the national level, he added, could result in the movement of solar, wind, and similar technologies’ manufacturing jobs overseas.

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Former EPA Boss: “Clean Break” from U.N. Talks Needed

The United States should make a "clean break" from international climate talks if it no longer plans to be part of the Paris Agreement, said Nicholas Institute Advisory Board chair and former U.S. EPA administrator William Reilly. Speaking with the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, Reilly noted that he had spoken out against withdrawing from the global climate deal. But now that President Trump has announced a U.S. exit, he has doubts about the administration participating in the annual U.N. negotiations. "I think that the worst possible outcome here is to announce an intended withdrawal from the agreement but to continue to participate in the deliberations of the parties," Reilly said. "It's a possibility of the United States playing a role to try to reduce the commitments or aspirations that are agreed to in future conferences of the parties. And that would be very unfortunate and pernicious and, I think, contrary to the desire to go it alone," he said.

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North Carolina Reacts to Trump’s Paris Climate Change Move

The day after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Nicholas Institute director Tim Profeta told Triangle Business Journal that states have to take the lead in attracting investments in clean technologies. “If anything, the federal government’s evident withdrawal from climate leadership will push the states into more of a leadership role,” Profeta said. He also said North Carolina’s diverse economy gives it an opportunity for bipartisan solutions to climate change.

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School Leaders Condemn US Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

In a joint statement appearing in Duke Today, Nicholas Institute director Tim Profeta and Environmental Economics director Brian Murray, along with Kelly D. Brownell of the Sanford School of Public Policy and Jeffrey R. Vincent of the Nicholas School of the Environment, comment on President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. “The president’s decision runs counter to prodigious evidence on the science and economics of climate change,” they write. “This body of evidence indicates that the risks from climate change are real and that the benefits of actions mitigating these risks justify the costs.” They four say that the exit undermines the ability of the United States to shape solutions to the global challenge of climate change.

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Joint Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

We are the leaders of four units at Duke University that collaborate on advancing an accessible, affordable, reliable, and clean energy system for our state, our country, and the world. We regard this challenge as one of the most pressing questions facing society in the 21st century, and one on which we should all be focused.

We pursue our goal by educating the leaders of tomorrow, conducting research that leads to innovative energy solutions, and engaging with decision makers in the public and private sectors to turn this knowledge into practice.

Our approach transcends political ideology.

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Capital Tonight June 1: President Trump's Decision on Paris Climate Change Agreement

The Nicholas Institute’s Brian Murray told Spectrum News’s “Capital Tonight” that President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Agreement “means that the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is now stepping away from the international process to try to address the reduction of emissions over the next several decades. What that means is that the responsibility is going to fall on the rest of the world to take those actions”—a move that “allows others to dictate the terms of trade.” He said the costs cited by President Trump for emissions reductions are “significantly overstated,” and he noted that a significant number of businesses had backed staying in the climate accord.

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Nature Provides Valuable Services That Benefit All, Experts Say

Investing in nature conservation can result in economic benefits, said the Nicholas Institute’s Lydia Olander at an American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium on the future of ecosystem services assessment. In a keynote address, the AAAS reported, Olander noted that many agencies already consider the value of ecosystem services in their decision making. They include the Agriculture Department and the U.S. Forest Service, which in 2012 instituted a land planning rule that provides guidance to ensure that plans to restore Forest Service land also preserve related ecosystem services.

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A Toolkit for Philanthropy to Understand Development Aid Investments

For a chapter of Our Shared Seas: An Overview of Ocean Threats and Conservation Funding, California Environmental Associates interviewed the Nicholas Institute’s John Virdin about the priority-setting process, staffing structure, and funding flows for marine investments at the World Bank, where Virdin worked for more than a decade. In “A Toolkit for Philanthropy to Understand Development Aid Investments,” Virdin shed light on how the Bank supports developing country governments to reform fisheries, reduce poverty, and improve fisheries management and governance.

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