News

China's New Silk Road

A conference at Duke Kunshan University last week—co-sponsored by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions—focused on China's global investments. The five-day conference addressed how to better understand and plan for China’s vast increase in infrastructure investment abroad, especially for projects that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Beyond Fuel Security: Reliability, Resilience and a More Sustainable Future through Grid Flexibility

The White House, federal agencies and some regional grid operators are seeking to boost electric grid reliability and resilience. In Utility Dive, Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Kate Konschnik and Jennie Chen write that improving grid flexibility could achieve the aims of fuel security more cost effectively while modernizing and decarbonizing the grid.

After Florence: Duke Faculty Discuss Relief Planning

Hurricane Florence brought much damage to the North Carolina coast and it’s clear that the work of recovery will take years. The expertise of Duke faculty will contribute to that work. A Duke Today story reports on what Duke faculty had to say about major issues, quoting the Nicholas Institute's Martin Doyle and Lauren Patterson who that the state’s dam infrastructure is being “pushed to its limits” by hurricanes such as Florence and 2016’s Matthew. “Climate change matters and it will push the limits of our infrastructure. A warming climate allows more precipitation to be held in the atmosphere, increasing the potential for high intensity precipitation, and appears to create conditions that make ‘stalling’ hurricanes like Florence, and what Texas saw with Harvey, more likely.”

Hurricanes Cause Dam Problems in North Carolina, Duke Researchers Say

In The Chronicle, The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions' Lauren Patterson and Martin Doyle discuss their research project investigating the target levels and management goals over time of dams and reservoirs. 

Murray Portrait

Carving the Energy Pathway of the Future

In a Nature Conservancy story profiling his career, Brian Murray, Duke University Energy Initiative director and faculty affiliate at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, discusses what motivates him and what the future holds for the energy sector: “I don’t think we should choose an energy technology and say that is the only technology to pursue. You must look at a portfolio approach. We have to move toward more decarbonized sources, but it is a transition path, not a brick wall,” Murray says. “It is way too simple to say that we know exactly what the energy solution is. As attractive as solar is becoming in certain places, we cannot conclude now that we should move toward a grid that is 100 percent solar in all places. A resilient grid is one that has diversity. A clean grid is one that has a minimal amount of pollution. We should be getting the most resilient and cleanest grid possible.”

Group Photo in Lisbon

International Expert Workshop on Blue Natural Capital

John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, was among the participants at the Workshop on Blue Natural Capital in Lisbon, Portugal. The two-day conference explored how to mainstream Blue Natural Capital in economic science, corporate accounting, ecosystem management, and policy and international processes. It also highlighted case studies on valuing Blue Natural Capital and its use in conservation strategies, revenue models and business cases for sustainable ocean economy.

Newly Formed Pacific Catalyst Looks to Nurture New Leaders, Policies in Pacific Islands

A group of educators and professionals led by Transform Aqorau recently announced the formation of Pacific Catalyst, a partnership designed to foster new policies and a fresh generation of leaders in the Pacific Island fisheries. Aqorau, formerly the director of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency and the CEO of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, is the founding director of Pacific Catalyst, which will count on the participation of the University of South Pacific, the University of Wollongong, Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, iTunalntel, and the Environmental Defense Fund reports Seafood Source

Washington Failed Twice to Tax Carbon. Is 2018 Different? ($)

A proposal by Washington state to tax carbon have it join California as the only states with a firm plan to tackle emissions reductions beyond the power sector. But the proposal, Billy Pizer, a faculty fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, is a risky move. Spending money on pollution reductions tends to be inefficient when compared with a strong carbon price, which incentivizes consumers and businesses to change behavior. Revenues generated by the fee also tend to increase over time, even as opportunities for pollution reduction become scarcer. The Washington proposal nevertheless has one chief advantage, Pizer tells ClimateWire. It has the potential of passing. "If the money is not being spent effectively, people can change that more easily than getting something on the books," he said, noting that the federal Clean Air Act was amended several times to address loopholes and inefficiencies. "You do whatever you can to get the architecture in place and then amend it later on."

Carbon Trading Workshop Panelists

Workshop: RGGI Just One Example of Carbon Trading Program States Could Follow

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a market-based emissions trading program, recently marked ten years of carbon auctions. A September workshop in Washington, D.C.—hosted by Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy SolutionsGeorgetown Climate CenterResources for the Future, and the RGGI Project Series—explored how this successful carbon trading program and plans by New Jersey and Virginia to participate, might inform other states that might want to link to RGGI or implement a separate carbon trading program.

Energy Infrastructure Map of the World student team with their poster

Duke Students Create Energy Datasets and Tools with Wide-Ranging Impact Through Data+ Summer Research

Nearly a third of humanity lacks reliable electricity. Over the summer as part of Duke University’s Data+ program, Duke student teams deployed cutting-edge data analysis techniques to aid the search for solutions to this global challenge. Guided by Duke faculty, students learn how to marshal, analyze, and visualize data, while gaining broad exposure to the modern world of data science. Both teams’ research efforts contribute to the goals of Duke’s Energy Access Project, a new research and policy effort that aims to address the challenges around increasing access to modern energy solutions to underserved populations around the world. Key Duke collaborators in this effort include the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Duke University Energy Initiative, the Sanford School of Public Policy, Bass Connections, and the Nicholas School of the Environment.