Survey Gauges Top Leaders Views of Environmental Policy Landscape

In spring 2017, researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions set out to determine what and how a broad cross-section of thought leaders at private corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, and universities think about emerging environmental trends, risks, and opportunities. Through the Emerging Environmental Issues Survey, the researchers aimed to assess both the reach and the manageability of environmental change.

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Ocracoke Island by William Britten Photography

The Blue Economy Makes Waves in Policy Circles

The blue economy concept could help policy makers more fully consider the marine environment together with economic growth to help meet the United Nation’s oceans sustainable development goal. John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is studying how governments in the United States and abroad might apply the blue economy concept to increase rates of economic return without depleting or damaging ocean ecosystems, which would put not only natural resources but also jobs and economic growth at risk. 

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McCain Resumes his Quest for Climate Change Action

Sen. John McCain recently said it’s time to sit down again and figure out some “common-sense solutions” to climate change. For future climate legislation to succeed, senators from both parties will have to come to an agreement, Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University told High Country News: “I don’t think that deal is ripe though. You need some triggering event to allow people to come off hardened positions. I think in the end we will price carbon. I pray that Sen. McCain is part of it.”

Sarah Adair

Games Give Students a Look at Complexity of Real-World Decision Making

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions staff member Sarah Adair participates in a three-day, hands-on Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative Research Camp designed to build critical thinking skills and introduce Chinese high school students to Duke’s interdisciplinary approach to climate and energy issues.

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Internet of Water report cover

Internet of Water Could Revolutionize Water Management

The United States is awash in water data—the power of which has yet to be unleashed. To realize the dormant value of the data, say some producers and users, would require making them widely shareable in standardized digital formats, thereby allowing their real-time aggregation for a host of purposes beyond those that spurred their original collection. They believe that opening the data and investing in water data infrastructure would set in motion a wave of innovation, leading to more sustainable management of our water resources.

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Electricity Sector Uncertainty Calls for New Decision-Making Tools

Researchers at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions have developed a deep understanding of both the electricity sector’s potential responses to regulatory, market, and technology changes and the emissions consequences of those responses. Our legal analyses and modeling have provided a solid foundation to help states address their own distinct decision-making challenges amid uncertainty, which has only deepened as the Trump administration looks to roll back Obama-era climate policies.

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The Future Of Hurricanes

Floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey still filled the streets in Texas when Hurricane Irma blew ashore in Florida. As Irma moves toward North Carolina, Duke University researchers Susan Lozier of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Martin Doyle of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions explore with NPR's Frank Stasio whether these weather events are growing more frequent or more extreme. They also analyze how communities and governments can become more resilient.

Work on this project is funded by The Nature Conservancy. Photo by Jared Lazarus, Duke University Photography.

Bridging Impacts: Finding Cross-Sector Solutions

In September 2015, world leaders signed off on the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs)—a roadmap to tackling climate change, eliminating poverty and hunger, and putting in place sustainable energy sources, water, and industry by 2030. To achieve these goals and the 169 targets underpinning them, problems can no longer be solved for one sector without taking into consideration the interconnected impacts on others. A new initiative—the Bridge Collaborative—works to solve the many, often interconnected problems, that touch the sectors of health, development, and environment.

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Water Fights: Can the Free Market Tame the West’s Vital and Volatile Currency?

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Martin Doyle told the Las Vegas Sun that water is "easily the most undervalued natural resource we have, aside from maybe air quality.” Water markets would help value that resource, but water trading is currently limited to one-off deals between two parties, deals governed by state regulations. “We don’t actually have—and pardon the pun—very liquid markets, because there are so many different people and entities that have a potential say in each individual transaction,” said Doyle.

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An Inconvenient Truth: We Could be Fighting about Climate Change for a While Yet

CBC News cites a study co-authored by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Brian Murray indicating that support for British Columbia's carbon tax increased after it was implemented, perhaps after it failed to result in economic ruin.