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China Skyscrapers by istock.com 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.

Portrait Jennie Chen

Understanding FERC’s Order Rejecting PJM’s Capacity Market Proposals and the Proposed Replacement Framework

Jennifer Chen, senior counsel at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, writes about how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently ordered changes to PJM's capacity market rules. FERC's 3-2 decision rejected two proposals filed by PJM as well as a proposal filed by a group of generators operating in PJM's footprint about how PJM's capacity market should handle state policies favoring certain types of power generation. PJM, states, and other stakeholders now have the opportunity to comment on and shape FERC's proposed replacement framework. Chen discusses the order, the proposed replacement framework, and dissects what FERC might consider as they move forward. 

Jackson Ewing Portrait

The Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Finance: Catalytic Agent or Empty Vessel?

For Brookings Future Development blog, Jackson Ewing, a senior fellow at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and an adjunct associate professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy, writes that climate change is creating an investment challenge. Although overhauling traditional energy systems, curtailing harmful industry practices, and scaling emerging technology can make economic sense, they often mean steep front-loaded costs. The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals are crafted to accelerate the flow of climate finance to developing countries, but, on the surface, it is unclear what new value they bring. 

Jennifer Weiss Portrait

North Carolina, It’s Time to Hit Reboot on Grid Modernization

In the News & Observer, Jen Weiss, senior policy associate at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, writes that on June 22 the N.C. Utilities Commission issued a long-anticipated order on Duke Energy Carolinas’ request for a hike in electricity rates. Observers have dissected the opinion and debated hot-button issues, ranging from fixed rates and coal ash expenses to costs tied to a shuttered nuclear project. One issue that rose to the top was the commission’s rejection of Duke Energy Carolinas’ 10-year, $7.8 billion grid modernization (or “grid mod”) bid, as well as a compromise deal brokered with green groups. As the dust settles on this decision, Weiss says, it could be a good time to hit the “reboot” button on Duke Energy’s often discussed, but seldom understood, $13 billion Power/Forward Carolinas Initiative.