News - Billy Pizer

A memo sent to the Office of Environment and Energy international affairs staff announced that all environmental work would be reassigned to the international development section, which oversaw the portfolio before President George W. Bush's Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, created a separate office to raise the profile of environmental finance, reports ClimateWire.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Sept. 20 that North Carolina will join 13 other states and Puerto Rico in the U.S. Climate Alliance—a bipartisan coalition committed to upholding the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Faculty Fellow Billy Pizer told The Chronicle that North Carolina's commitment to a state-level climate change alliance is mostly a symbolic gesture but still a meaningful one. He said a state-level alliance demonstrates the diversity of perspectives in the United States on climate change mitigation, especially when the federal government deviates from its original climate commitment.

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.”

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.


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.”

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.”

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.

In response to the U.S. exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, the city of Durham and Duke University have reaffirmed their commitment to combating climate change. Nicholas Institute faculty fellow Billy Pizer suggested that when national government is less polarized, signals from sub-national actors could begin to shape national policy. “My feeling is that the problem will only be tackled successfully when there is either national-level policy or a large enough number of state-level actors who take action like California and New York," Pizer told the Duke Chronicle. He added that acting without federal coordination states could simply shift emissions to each other without meaningfully reducing emissions. Nicholas Institute Environmental Economics Program director Brian Murray noted that cities can exert economic influence. “Most of the economic activity throughout the world happens in cities,” Murray said. "Individual cities can impose ordinances or have policies or create incentives for companies to act in more climate friendly ways, in addition to using their bully pulpit to say that we don't believe that what the president did is good policy.”

The Nicholas Institute’s Billy Pizer told WalletHub that he does believe there’s almost always some significant trade-off to deal with significant environmental challenges. “That said, I think environmental amenities—clean air, clean water, a stable atmosphere and climate—can be enormously valuable and worth paying for,” he continued. “Moreover, I don’t think the costs need to be that large if policies are designed well.”

Congress is awaiting President Donald Trump's budget proposal with the details about his vision of government, and some preliminary elements of that plan are trickling out. According to some reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may lose as much as a quarter of its budget. The Energy Star Program, which identifies and promotes energy efficiency in products, could be targeted. Billy Pizer, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions faculty fellow and Sanford School of Public Policy professor, comments for Marketplace.