News

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.”

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.”

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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.”

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Biodiversity Loss from Deep-Sea Mining Will Be Unavoidable

An international team of 15 marine scientists, resource economists and legal scholars, including Nicholas Institute senior scholar Linwood Pendleton, argued in a letter published in the journal Nature Geoscience ($) that deep-sea mining will come at a cost to biodiversity. “The extraction of non-renewable resources always includes tradeoffs,” Pendleton said. “A serious trade-off for deep-sea mining will be an unavoidable loss of biodiversity, including many species that have yet to be discovered.” Given this inevitable outcome, it’s critical to understand deep-sea ecosystems and what we stand to lose before mining begins, he said.

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Energy Program on Chopping Block, But New Data Suggest It Works

Research presented in a working paper in the Environmental and Energy Economics Working Paper Series organized by the Duke University Energy Initiative (DUEI) and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has yielded new data about an energy efficiency program slated for elimination in the Trump administration’s proposed budget. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessments Centers program aims to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers become more energy-efficient by providing free energy “audits” by universities around the country. According to the Duke analysis, which was made by possible by the DUEI’s Energy Research Seed Fund, the program works. Given the potential uses of the results by the private sector (particularly by electric utilities), other funding possibilities may emerge, reported the Duke Research Blog.

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Creating and Internet of Water Database Would Help Manage Water Sustainably

Water is a precious resource, as the five years of extreme drought Californians have just lived through teach us. The lesson learned is how the private and public sector manage water can help take stress off of watersheds. To better manage water, open and shared data is necessary. Aspen Institute, along with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and Redstone Strategy Group, released a report with findings and guidance on how to use water data to improve sustainable use of the resource. 

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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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