Publications

Initial Assessment of Gender Considerations in Plastics Policy

Globally, women are disproportionately burdened and impacted by the harmful effects of plastic across the life cycle of products. These burdens vary across cultural, socioeconomic, and political contexts, and based on how women engage with plastic, but broadly include health and safety impacts, access to opportunities in the waste sector, and exposures to harmful plastic-associated chemicals. This initial assessment considers how women, people who are assigned female at birth and have been socialized as females, and/or female-identified people are considered in plastics policy scope and implementation.

2023 Annual Trends in Plastics Policy: A Brief

In the first annual update of Annual Trends in Plastics Policy, Nicholas Institute researchers find that plastics policy enactment continues to surge and was not negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To better gauge policy implementation, researchers established a new effectiveness policy library to accompany the 2022 update. These studies indicate that, while underused in existing policy, greater governmental use of economic instruments (e.g., taxes, fees, levies) and information instruments (e.g., awareness campaigns to communicate other instruments to the public, education initiatives, etc.) would aid in enacting effective policies in the future.

Strengthening Supply Chains for US Decarbonization

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act provides new sources of capital and incentives for accelerating net-zero efforts. The law concurrently seeks to shift supply chains vital for US decarbonization to domestic sources and, more selectively, to links with free-trade partners. However, challenges abound. This policy paper responds by exploring opportunities inherent to rapidly creat­ing just, low-carbon, and sustainable supply chains for key sectors of the US economy.

This report is part of Keys to the US Energy Transition: An Energy Pathways USA Series.

Cleaning Up without Messing Up: Maximizing the Benefits of Plastic Clean-Up Technologies through New Regulatory Approaches

As the global plastics crisis grows, numerous technologies have been invented and implemented to recover plastic pollution from the environment. Although laudable, unregulated clean-up technologies may be inefficient and have unintended negative consequences on ecosystems, for example, through bycatch or removal of organic matter important for ecosystem functions. Despite these concerns, plastic clean-up technologies can play an important role in reducing litter in the environment.

Beyond FERC Order 2023: Considerations on Deep Interconnection Reform

In late July 2023, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its much-anticipated rule on interconnection reform, Order 2023. This policy brief explores a deeper reform option known as connect and manage. This less restrictive interconnection approac could speed the deployment of resources in a way that can be managed after their integration with the grid, leading to a larger volume of interconnected generation capacity without sacrificing reliability.

Trends in Electric Vehicle Charging Ports per Site in the Southeastern United States

This report provides an overview of the market trends in electric vehicle (EV) charging ports per station across 12 Southeastern states based on an analysis of charging station characteristics over the last decade. As of 2022, we identify an average of 2.3 ports per Level 2 charging station and 4.6 ports per direct current fast charging (DCFC) station in the region. The observed trend in the Level 2 market has been consistent over the study period, whereas the more complex DCFC space is characterized by much greater variability.

Higher Temperatures in Socially Vulnerable US Communities Increasingly Limit Safe Use of Electric Fans for Cooling

Use of electric fans can help people stay cool if they can remain hydrated and if temperatures are low enough. Yet, there are limits to how hot it can be to safely use a fan—when temperatures are too high, a fan will increase the amount of heat traveling over the skin. We use data based on historical meteorological observations to study the number of hours in the continental US that exceed recommended temperature thresholds for safe fan use. We also examine where climate conditions considered unsafe for fan use overlap with socially vulnerable communities.

Climate, Race, and the Cost of Capital in the Municipal Bond Market

Both climate risk and race are factors that may affect municipal bond yields, yet each has received relatively limited empirical research attention. The authors analyzed >712,000 municipal bonds representing nearly 2 trillion USD in par outstanding, focusing on credit spread or the difference between a debt issuer’s interest cost to borrow and a benchmark “risk-free” municipal rate. The authors' combined findings indicate a systemic mispricing of risk in the municipal bond market, where race impacts the cost of capital, and climate does not.

Barriers to Off-Grid Energy Development: Evidence from a Comparative Survey of Private Sector Energy Service Providers in Eastern Africa

In light of recent growth and falling costs of solar photovoltaic technology, this paper examines the barriers and opportunities facing off-grid development in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, four countries whose off-grid sectors vary in maturity.

Making Clean Energy Transitions More Inclusive: Evidence, Knowledge Gaps, and Policy Options in Low-Income Economies

Access to reliable renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide significant climate, development, and equity benefits. Transitions to clean energy are compatible with sustainable and equitable development and women’s economic empowerment. However, in the absence of adequate policies, they may reinforce existing inequalities. This policy brief summarizes the evidence that supports and knowledge gaps that hinder clean and inclusive energy transitions.