News

Student Team’s Success in Energy Case Competition is Powered by the Unique Duke Experience

A Duke University undergraduate team has taken top honors in the North American division of Schneider Electric’s 2017 Go Green in the City case competition, which focuses on sustainable energy approaches in urban environments. The students trace their own energy management solution back to a 2015-16 Bass Connections in Energy team. Led by Jim Rogers, former Duke Energy CEO, and Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Bass Connections team designed student projects focused on off-grid electricity access, which were then funded through Duke Engage.

9 States Deciding Whether to Tighten Power Plant Emissions Rules in RGGI

In what Inside Climate News described as an important test of state governments' ability to counteract the Trump administration's retreat from climate policies, the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will soon decide whether to deepen greenhouse gas emissions cuts. The media outlet noted a study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy Initiative finding that the main driving factor in lowering emissions in the RGGI states was RGGI's cap-and-trade program.

The Number Of Oil Spills in Texas Dropped 26 Percent in 2016

Texas Monthly reports on a study published in February and led by Lauren Patterson of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, on hydraulic fracturing spill risk in Texas and other states. It indicated that “75 to 94% of spills occurred within the first three years of well life when wells were drilled, completed, and had their largest production volumes.” 

Oil Field Spills Down 17% Last Year ($)

EnergyWire reports that a review of spill records indicates that spills declined about 17 percent during 2016 compared to the previous year. The decrease makes sense to Lauren Patterson, a researcher at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions who authored a study earlier this year on oil and gas spills (Greenwire, Feb. 21). She found that most spills happen in the first three years of a well's life. "If there's fewer new wells, I would expect the number of spills to decrease," Patterson said.

How Climate Change Will Hit the South’s Economy

According to a new report from the Climate Impact Lab, the South is likely to be hit harder than other parts of the United States by the costs of climate change, which range from dying crops to increased energy costs and mortality rates. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions faculty fellow Billy Pizer told Frank Stasio of WUNC’s “The State of Things” that “The important thing about the report is that this is one of the first times we’ve seen the consequences of climate change estimated and monetized and added up into aggregate total numbers for individual counties across the United States and the country as a whole.” He noted that the study is based on very detailed statistical analyses of actual climate change impacts, that the study’s geographical detail and assemblage of data make the study novel, and that “Mortality consequences tend to be the biggest contributor to the cost of climate change.”

Trump’s Risky Offshore Oil Strategy

In a New York Times op-ed, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head (and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Advisory Board chairman) William Reilly noted that President Trump's proposed expansion of offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive areas could come at an economic cost. “A spill in any of those waters could threaten multibillion-dollar regional economies that depend on clean oceans and coastlines,” said Reilly, who pointed out that Trump has also called for reconsideration of the well control rule, which tightened controls on blowout preventers, which are designed to stop undersea oil and gas well explosions. Reilly said that rule was based in part on findings of the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which he co-chaired.

Q&A with the Authors of Environmental Impact Investing in Real Assets—What Environmental Measures Do Fund Managers Consider?

Investors have begun seeking opportunities for generating financial returns and quantifiable environmental gains. But what are investors getting out of their so-called environmental impact investing? To find out, five Duke University-affiliated researchers, including the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Martin Doyle, interviewed investment fund managers of environmental real assets—assets that rely on ecological systems like forestlands and farmlands to generate cash flows. Their report sheds light on how fund managers think about measurement and reporting of environmental returns. 

Climate Change "Damages U.S. Economy, Increases Inequality": Study

In its coverage of a new study showing the U.S. GDP cost associated with every one degree Celsius increase in global temperatures, Xinhua noted a perspective on the study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions's William Pizer. "As recent actions by the current U.S. administration highlight, the pendulum for environmental protection can swing back and forth," Pizer wrote.

 

Mapping the Potential Economic Effects of Climate Change

Commenting for National Public Radio on a study in Science that reveals which parts of the United States are likely to suffer the most from climate change, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solution’s Billy Pizer says such research brings the threat into focus. “It’s important to figure out: Are we talking about something the size of a bread box or the size of an elephant or the size of a mouse?” he says. “And I think getting those sorts of magnitudes right, I think is really important, and I think that's what this paper does.”

Climate Change Will Hurt the Poor and Help the Wealthy

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solution’s Billy Pizer commented in Newsweek on a new study in the journal Science that estimates that every 1 degree Celsius of warming will cost the United States 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product, worsen economic inequality, and exact other costs, including human deaths, agricultural declines, and even increased crime. This study “is the first comprehensive estimate of climate change damages driven by state-of-the-art empirical studies of climate change impacts,” said Pizer, who wrote a perspective accompanying the study in Science but who wasn’t involved in the research. “These are combined into a single, aggregate damage function, relating temperature change to dollar estimates of damages.” He added that “It is not clear that anything, besides cutting emissions, can be done to avoid these economic consequences. Because of the way the estimates are constructed, they should already include various opportunities for averting behavior. Perhaps innovation and technological change in the future will find ways to avoid some of these consequences more cheaply. That said, there are many relatively inexpensive opportunities to cut emissions.”