News

Duke University Hosts Discussion on Paris Climate Talks

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions director Tim Profeta spoke at Duke University as a member of a panel of Duke University attendees at last month’s United Nations climate conference in Paris. The event explored the significance of that conference and how the Duke community is involved in climate action.

 

 

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Does Coal or Gas use More Water? It's Complicated ($)

Switching from coal- to gas-fired power reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but the transition's net effect on water consumption is a more complicated calculation, according to a working paper from Duke and Harvard universities. EnergyWire reports that Pennsylvania's coal-to-gas conversion resulted in an annual 2.6 to 8.4 percent increase in water use across the state. On a local level, though, the net effect was tied to available natural gas resources and pre-existing power-generating infrastructure.

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New Report Finds Near-Term Update to Social Cost of Carbon Unwarranted

There would not be sufficient benefit to updating estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC) within a year based only on the revision of a specific climate parameter in the existing framework used by the government's interagency group to measure the SCC, says a new interim report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The committee, which includes Billy Pizer, a faculty fellow of the Nicholas Institute and professor in the Sanford School, recommended ways to change federal technical support documents on the SCC to enhance the characterization of uncertainties associated with the estimates, including when used in regulatory impact analyses.

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Duke Kunshan to Offer New Professional Degree in Environmental Policy

Duke Kunshan University will offer a new international master’s degree in environmental policy (IMEP) beginning in the fall of 2017. The four-semester, 16-course program is designed to meet the growing global need for leaders who are versed in both Chinese and international environmental issues and policies. Billy Pizer of the Sanford School and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutionsis among the faculty members that spearheaded the program’s creation.

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Reflecting on the Paris Climate Conference

What was accomplished at the United Nation's Climate Change Conference in Paris? Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy Dean Kelly Brownell talks with Billy Pizer, Sanford professor and faculty fellow with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, about the outcome. Pizer says the structure of the agreement is one that he's excited about, particularly because it considers how hard countries are trying to make change. "I'm optimistic that once we have the right incentives and the commitments in place, we'll actually do a lot more things that people couldn't even imagine," Pizer said.

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As Water Use in Gas Extraction Grows,Use in Coal Extraction Declines

A new study co-authored by researchers at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, and the University of Calgary provides the first comprehensive representation of changing water consumption patterns associated with fuel extraction and power generation, the Resources for the Future blog reports.

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Coal-to-Gas Transition Alters Pennsylvania Water Consumption

Extraction of coal and natural gas and power generation from both fuels contributed to a yearly 2.6 to 8.4 percent increase in water consumption in Pennsylvania during the early stages of the coal-to-gas transition from 2009 to 2012. However, impacts varied across the state as some areas experienced no change or large decreases in water consumption, according to a new working paper examining the water implications of Pennsylvania’s energy extraction and generation choices.

 

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Proof That a Price on Carbon Works

The New York Times editorial board writes that nearly 40 nations, including the 28-member European Union, and many smaller jurisdictions are engaged in some form of carbon pricing. They mention a study by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Sustainable Prosperity that finds British Columbia's tax helped cut emissions but has had no negative impact on the province’s growth rate, which has been about the same or slightly faster than the country as a whole in recent years.

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Carbon Trading Finds a Foothold in at Least 20 States ($)

Close to half of states, including many run by Republicans, are hoping to use some form of a carbon market similar to cap and trade to meet federal Clean Power Plan targets, according to a ClimateWire review of high-level planning talks. In at least 20 of the 47 states that must meet U.S. EPA requirements, top policymakers or major utilities are pushing for a system where power generators could purchase carbon allowances or credits across state borders as a way to meet EPA's goals. "You can do this without using markets, but it is, put simply, really hard to do at a low cost," said David Hoppock, senior policy associate with Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, a group that has been coordinating compliance discussions among Southeastern states.​

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Energy Initiative Director Steps Down, Murray Named Interim Lead

Richard Newell, the founding director of the Duke University Energy Initiative and a leading expert on energy policy, will be stepping down from his position to pursue new opportunities in research and public service. Newell, the Gendell Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics at the Nicholas School of the Environment, launched the interdisciplinary Energy Initiative in 2011 after serving as administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. He previously served as a senior economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers before joining the Duke faculty in 2007. Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, has been named interim director of the Energy Initiative.

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