Publications

Filter by Program:

Filter by Author:

Filter by Publication Type:

A Review of the Use of Early-Action Incentives in U.S. Environmental Markets

Early action can refer to activities undertaken prior to a regulatory program or the generation of a particular service before its use to mitigate an impact elsewhere. In U.S. environmental markets, early action can result in multiple benefits. One benefit is facilitation of market function by helping to generate a sufficient supply of viable, low-cost credits to buyers and gain momentum in new markets. Another benefit is providing advance mitigation, which can speed the delivery of ecosystem services. As markets emerge and mature, early action can help reduce lags in environmental performance, improve outcomes, and encourage innovation in mitigation approaches. Multiple tools have been proposed for encouraging early action in ecosystem services markets. To varying extents, these tools have also been deployed, providing valuable experience and insight into their functioning. This paper presents several case studies of how these tools have been used in wetland and stream mitigation, species and habitat banking, greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sequestration, and water quality trading. It finds that early action incentives necessary to motivate sellers differ from those necessary to motivate buyers and that interventions should account for this reality. The tool or approach best suited to encourage early action may also vary as conditions change and new barriers arise. Anecdotal evidence suggests the potential for benefits to accrue from early action, but additional data on the costs and benefits of early action are needed to inform the selection and implementation of specific tools.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik and Lydia P. Olander

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Working Papers

Identifying and Assessing the Application of Ecosystem Services Approaches in Environmental Policies and Decision Making

The presumption is that ecosystem services (ES) approaches provide a better basis for environmental decision making than other approaches because they make explicit the connection between human well-being and ecosystem structures and processes. However, the existing literature does not provide a precise description of ES approaches for environmental policy and decision making, nor does it assess whether these applications will make a difference in terms of changing decisions and improving outcomes. This article in Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management describes three criteria that can be used to identify whether and to what extent ES approaches are being applied: (1) connect impacts all the way from ecosystem changes to human well-being, (2) consider all relevant ecosystem services affected by the decision, (3) consider and compare the changes in well-being of different stakeholders. As a demonstration of these criteria, the article looks at if and how the criteria were met in different decision-making contexts using an analysis format that describes the type of policy, the relevant scale(s), the decisions or questions, the decision maker, and the underlying documents. This format includes a general judgement of how far the three ES criteria have been applied. It shows that the criteria can be applied to many different decision-making processes, ranging from the supranational to the local scale, and to different parts of those processes. The authors conclude that these criteria could be used to assess the extent to which ES approaches have been and should be applied, to understand the benefits and challenges of applying the approaches, and to determine whether using them makes a difference in the decision-making process, the decisions, or the outcomes of those decisions. Results from such studies could inform future use and development of ES approaches, draw attention to the approaches’ greatest benefits and challenges, and inform integration of ES approaches into policies.

Authors: Joke Van Wensem, Peter Calow, Annik Dollacker, Lorraine Maltby, Lydia Olander, Magnus Tuvendal, and George Van Houtven

Filters

Ecosystem Services

National Ecosystem Services Partnership

Journal Articles

Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean

Toward a Blue Economy: A promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean, a World Bank report co-authored by a Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions researcher, is a guide to help Caribbean policymakers plan a successful transition to a blue economy and socially equitable blue growth. This report attempts to quantify the current ocean economy in the region and summarize projections about where we may find new pockets of sustainable growth, and define the blue economy concepts and possible policy responses that might better align economic growth and environmental health in the Caribbean. At a global level, the transition to a blue economy will significantly contribute to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 for the ocean and other goals such as poverty reduction, food security, energy security, climate change mitigation, among others.

Authors: Pawan G. Patil, John Virdin, Sylvia Michele Diez, Julian Roberts, and Asha Singh

Filters

Blue Economy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Blue Economy

Reports

Economic Tools to Promote Transparency and Comparability in the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement culminates a six-year transition toward an international climate policy architecture based on submission of national pledges every five years. An important policy task will be to assess and compare these pledges. This study in the journal Nature Climate Change uses four integrated assessment models to produce metrics of Paris Agreement pledges, and it shows differentiated effort across countries: compared with poorer countries, wealthier countries undertake greater emissions reductions with higher costs. The pledges fall in the lower end of the distributions of the social cost of carbon and the cost-minimizing path to limiting warming to 2 degrees Centigrade, suggesting insufficient global ambition in light of leaders’ climate goals. Countries’ marginal abatement costs vary by two orders of magnitude, illustrating that large efficiency gains are available through joint mitigation efforts, carbon price coordination, or both. Marginal costs rise almost proportionally with income, but full policy costs reveal more complex regional patterns due to terms of trade effects.

Authors: Joseph Aldy, William Pizer, Massimo Tavoni, Lara Aleluia Reis, Keigo Akimoto, Geffrey Blanford, Carlo Carraro, Leon E. Clarke, James Edmonds, Gokul C. Iyer, Haewon C. McJeon, Richard Richels, Steven Rose, and Fuminori Sano

 

Filters

Environmental Economics

Climate Change Policy

Modeling

Journal Articles

Transport of Hydraulic Fracturing Waste from Pennsylvania Wells: A County-Level Analysis of Road Use and Associated Road Repair Costs

Pennsylvania’s rapid unconventional oil and gas development—from a single well in 2004 to more than 6700 wells in 2013—has dramatically increased unconventional oil and gas waste transport by heavy trucks. In an article published in the Journal of Environmental Management, researchers at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the U.S. Geological Survey report that transportation of waste associated with the development of unconventional oil and gas in Pennsylvania increases the cost of road repairs not only in Pennsylvania but in counties in the surrounding states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and New York. Between July 2010 and December 2013, the estimated cost to repair roads damaged by trucks transporting unconventional oil and gas waste ranged from $3 million to $18 million. Although the majority of these costs were concentrated in Pennsylvania (79 percent), Ohio counties absorbed some of them (16 percent). The study includes an interactive graphic for visualization of the data.   

Authors: Lauren A. Patterson and Kelly O. Maloney

Filters

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Use

Climate and Energy

Water Policy

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Journal Articles

Effect of Existing and Novel Policy Options on the Sustainable Development of Regional Bioenergy Systems: Lessons and Future Directions

What are the most appropriate policies to facilitate regional bioenergy systems in furtherance of environmental, social, and economic objectives? A multi-year research project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has attempted to answer that question for the southeastern United States. Project analyses found few policies targeted to the upstream portions of the supply chain in the region, suggesting that efforts to encourage sustainable bioenergy markets should be cognizant of the dynamics of feedstock production and use. Investigation of bioenergy market participation identified non-production objectives, structural and social constraints, and market-related attributes that could influence market participation decision making. It also suggested that policies specific to individual markets might be more effective than uniform national initiatives in encouraging participation. Modeling of potential policies to facilitate development of regional bioenergy systems suggested that feedstock dynamics play a critical role in outcomes. A region-wide renewable portfolio standard—a policy characterized by few restrictions on the location of feedstock production and use—led to increases in forest carbon and decreases in greenhouse gas emissions at multiple scales. Forcing feedstock production and use to occur in particular locations might have the opposite outcome. The effectiveness of regional bioenergy systems will depend on the responsiveness of policy to social, economic, and resource conditions.

Authors: Christopher S. Galik, Tibor Vegh, Robert C. Abt, and Gregory Latta

 

Filters

Climate and Energy

Regional Bioenergy

Environmental Economics

Energy Sector

Modeling

Southeast

Working Papers

Ongoing Evolution of the Electricity Industry: Effects of Market Conditions and the Clean Power Plan on States

The electricity industry is evolving as changes in natural gas and coal prices, along with environmental regulations, dramatically shift the generation mix. Future trends in gas prices and costs of renewables are likely to continue moving the industry away from coal-fired generation and into lower-emitting sources such as natural gas and renewables. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is likely to amplify these trends. The CPP rule regulates emissions from existing fossil generators and allows states to choose among an array of rate-based and mass-based goals. The analysis in this paper uses the electricity-dispatch component of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions’ Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model to evaluate electricity industry trends and CPP impacts on the U.S. generation mix, emissions, and industry costs. Several coordinated approaches to the Clean Power Plan are considered, along with a range of uncoordinated “patchwork” choices by states. The model results indicate future industry trends are likely to make compliance with the Clean Power Plan relatively inexpensive; cost increases are likely to be on the order of 0.1% to 1.0%. Some external market conditions such as high gas prices could increase these costs, whereas low gas or renewables prices can achieve many of CPP goals without additional adjustments by the industry. However, policy costs can vary substantially across states, and may lead some of them to adopt a patchwork of policies that, although in their own best interests, could impose additional costs on neighboring states.

Authors: Martin T. Ross, David Hoppock, and Brian C. Murray

Filters

Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Working Papers

Cost Distribution Impacts of Clean Power Plan Compliance Pathways

Under the Clean Power Plan, different utilities and power producers are likely to be in different positions: some will benefit from the rule, and others will face high compliance costs. This cost distribution may lead to monetary transfers—redistributions of money, income, or value from one party to another that are not necessarily driven by a change in the corresponding cost of production—among utilities and other power producers, between generators and consumers, and among consumers of different utilities. The regulatory system for each state’s electric utilities and the strength of regional electricity markets will play a major role in determining how the cost distribution and potential transfers play out, especially for ratepayers. This policy brief explores the cost distribution impacts for electricity producers of rate-based and mass-based compliance, respectively. It also considers how wholesale markets may mediate these producer impacts of rate- and mass-based compliance. It then turns to the implications for electricity consumers under various market and regulatory structures. Finally, it identifies opportunities to address distributional impacts if states wish to do so. It finds that states adopting a mass-based compliance approach can use allowance allocation to largely control monetary transfers within a state. States adopting a rate-based compliance approach lack this direct control mechanism.

Authors: David Hoppock and Sarah Adair

Filters

Climate and Energy

Clean Air Act

Policy and Design

Environmental Economics

State Policy

Policy Briefs

Engaging Large Forest Owners in All-Lands Conservation: All-Lands and Large Ownerships—A Conversation to Advance Engagement Workshop, March 8, 2016, Washington, D.C.

Successful landscape-scale forest conservation and management efforts must engage a wide variety of forestland owners. Owners of large areas of forestland (more than 10,000 acres) have a particularly important role to play in the attainment of landscape-scale goals. Their cooperation increases opportunities for attaining conservation benefits at significant scale. On March 8, 2016, a group of large private landowners was for the first time brought together with federal, NGO, and academic thought leaders to generate ideas for improving engagement on landscape-scale conservation goals. The dialogue was designed to identify barriers to and options for that engagement. These proceedings summarize the dialogue of meeting participants in addressing an “all lands” approach to conservation whereby landowners and stakeholders collaborate on identifying long-term, mutually beneficial goals for the landscapes they share. It includes a profile of large institutional forestland owners and details the results of a survey conducted to measure their current engagement in conservation activities. Participants identified barriers to engaging large forest landowners in conservation. They include the absence of an inclusive vision for the future of forest management, insufficient leadership for building diverse coalitions to address forest threats, lack of alignment of existing federal programs with respect to large ownership structures, limited understanding of the public benefits provided by large privately owned forests, and lack of markets to sustain these benefits. Participants recognized the need to define a shared conservation vision, to build leadership for a broad coalition of stakeholders, and to execute a national strategy recognizing the value of and providing incentives for large private landowners to cooperatively address forest threats. Much discussion centered on building the business case for conservation and on recognizing new values and expanding markets. Participants also considered opportunities for aligning the incentive-based approaches of funding agencies with the needs and interests of forestland owners. A steering committee was formed to consider developing specific strategies to incentivize engagement of large forestland owners and to work toward a collaborative vision for attaining conservation objectives across varied ownerships.

Authors: Eric Smith, Lydia Olander, Paul Trianosky, and Andrea Bedell-Loucks

 

Filters

Ecosystem Services

Land

Proceedings

Contributions of LiDAR to Ecosystem Service Planning and Markets: Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Investment

Municipalities are increasingly interested in using light detection and radar (LiDAR) technology to support a variety of markets, services, and planning processes. Consequently, they are contemplating how best to justify investments in improved data when not all of the investments’ costs and benefits are amenable to quantitative estimation. They are also contemplating who benefits from the investments and how to address any inequities in either costs or benefits. This paper reviews the drivers and co-benefits of expanded LiDAR data investment by local government entities and presents a case study of forest carbon markets in California to illuminate how this investment compares to investment in the acquisition of field sampling and other data. The study suggests that LiDAR can be cost-competitive with traditional field-sampling approaches under certain conditions or assumptions, and it may offer advantages and some benefits that may not accrue from field-based approaches. In addition, the study reinforces the conclusion of other research that conditions, approach, and assumptions strongly influence analysis outcomes, in turn reinforcing the need to tailor analyses to the research question at hand. Although the case study lends insight into the tools available for assessing the costs and benefits of LiDAR data acquisition, several uncertainties remain, including how LiDAR and other improved data fit into national policy dialogues and program funding discussions.

Author: Christopher S. Galik

Filters

Environmental Markets

Ecosystem Services

Working Papers

Pages