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Financial Capability and Performance: Assessing Trends Among North Carolina Utilities
A team of researchers from Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering; Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability; and the Nicholas School of the Environment assessed the finances of 301 North Carolina water utilities and identified a significant and growing group of communities facing a conflicting dilemma of water affordability and utility cost recovery.
Inequitable Distribution of Plastic Benefits and Burdens on Economies and Public Health
Members of Duke University's Plastic Pollution Working Group examine the unequal distribution of benefits and burdens of plastics. They find the benefits of plastics to communities and stakeholders are principally economic, whereas their burdens fall largely on human health. The report stresses the need for policy design to include health burdens to all impacted stakeholders across all plastic life stages and urges the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to consider harmful effects across the entire plastic lifecycle and to apply the precautionary principle when drafting the upcoming international global plastic treaty.
Spatial Analysis of Aquatic Food Access Can Inform Nutrition-Sensitive Policy
Aquatic foods are critical for food and nutrition security in Malawi, but it is unclear which populations benefit from different aquatic foods and what factors shape food access. Spatial analysis of food flows across value chains from Lake Malawi to domestic consumers shows that usipa (Engraulicypris sardella) reaches more consumers than chambo (Oreochromis karongae) across all Malawi districts. Spatial analysis of food flows can guide policy makers toward supporting fisheries that reach vulnerable populations and designing interventions that enhance physical and economic access to fish.
State of the Coast: A Review of Coastal Management Policies for Six States
This analysis of coastal habitat policy in six US states—California, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington—aims to identify promising policy approaches for improved protection and restoration of oyster reefs, mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrass.
Coalition Stability in PJM: Exploring the Consequences of State Defection from the Wholesale Market
Using a simulation tool, the authors investigate the effects created by a US state defecting from the wholesale electricity market in an organized electric grid on the states that remain in the coalition. The report finds that if a net-importing state defects, the remaining states’ producers are worse off and the remaining states’ consumers are better off. The opposite effect takes hold if the defecting state is a net-exporter. Furthermore, the authors find evidence that defection impacts the remaining states’ climate initiatives.
Taxes and Subsidies and the Transition to Clean Cooking: A Review of Relevant Theoretical and Empirical Insights
Though many challenges impede low- and middle-income countries’ access to clean cooking energy, cost barriers are perhaps most significant. This report discusses the role of subsidy and tax policies—levied on both the supply and demand side of this market—in affecting progress toward universal access to clean cooking. Moreover, we show that a “fear of spoiling the market” with such incentives finds little empirical support in the literature. This report offers recommendations to policy makers, in additional to a case study on clean cooking transitions in Nepal.
Voluntary Commitments Made by the World’s Largest Companies Focus on Recycling and Packaging Over Other Actions to Address the Plastics Crisis
In a study published by the journal One Earth, Duke experts share findings from an examination of the types of commitments that corporations have made to address global plastic pollution. The authors find that, rather than tackle virgin plastics, most companies target packaging and general plastics and frequently emphasize recycling-related efforts. While many large and important companies are making commitments, significantly more efforts beyond plastic recycling are required to effectively address plastic pollution challenges.
Pathways to Net-Zero for the US Energy Transition
What will it take to achieve a net-zero carbon emissions footprint for the US economy by 2050? This report from Energy Pathways USA helps strengthen the evidence base on what will be required for a robust US energy transition and elucidates key barriers and opportunities for reaching net-zero goals. The report also outlines future areas of focus for Energy Pathways USA, a Duke-based project that accelerates progress towards a net-zero carbon future by developing workable solutions with corporate partners across multiple key industries.
A Transdisciplinary Approach to Reducing Global Plastic Pollution
In a commentary published by Frontiers in Marine Science, Duke experts outline evidence underscoring the urgency of the plastic policy crisis and recommend novel research-based interventions. The interdisciplinary group of authors are part of Duke's Plastic Pollution Working Group.
Can Time-of-Use Tariffs Increase the Financial Viability of Mini-Grids?
Declining solar and battery costs and increased operational efficiency have helped expand community-scale mini-grids, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where they now meet the power needs of over 47 million people. However, mini-grid system economics must continue to improve to be a reliable power solution for the nearly 800 million people still lacking access. Time-of-use (ToU) tariffs could represent one piece of the solution. This policy brief develops a model to estimate the effects of a ToU tariff using data from Energicity, a solar mini-grid operator in Sierra Leone.