As concerns over climate change and natural resource depletion grow, investors have sought opportunities for "impact investing" to generate both market-rate financial returns and quantifiable environmental gains. But a new report by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions presenting findings from interviews of investment fund managers of environmental real assets reveals little consistency in how environmental returns are measured and reported. Moreover, as the authors explain in a Q&A, metrics are not designed to allow for evaluation of funds' environmental performance. Although investors are considered to be generally uninterested in distinguishing among funds in terms of environmental returns, that may be changing.
A new Nicholas Institute working paper reviews the literature on the costs and benefits of government investments in public water data, finding that the median benefit-cost ratio across different economic sectors and geographic regions is 4:1. But much uncertainty attends this number; few studies empirically quantify or monetize the costs and benefits of water information with sound economic methods, and no studies have quantified the value of water quality information. 
In an article in the journal Ecosystem Services, the Nicholas Institute's Lydia Olander, the Nicholas School of the Environment's Lynn Maguire and their co-authors explain why little of the abundant ecosystem services research can directly support decisions. The authors note that decision makers require cost-effective, straightforward, transferable, scalable, meaningful, and defensible methods that can be readily understood. Their article provides illustrative examples of the gaps between research and practice and describes how researchers can make their work relevant to decision makers by using benefit relevant indicators and by choosing models appropriate for particular decision contexts.  
Canadian Ecosystem Systems Toolkit
August 2, Online Webinar
Incorporating Environmental Justice for Disadvantaged Communities into California Climate Law
September 11, Durham, North Carolina
Energy Week at Duke
November 5-10, Durham, North Carolina
Murray on Consequences of Paris Agreement Exit
During an appearance on "Capital Tonight," the Nicholas Institute's Brian Murray said President Donald Trump's decision to exit the Paris Agreement "means that the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases is now stepping away from the international process to try to address the reduction of emissions over the next several decades. What that means is that the responsibility is going to fall on the rest of the world to take those actions"--a move that "allows others to dictate the terms of trade." (Murray's comments begin at 8:25.)
NPR , How Climate Change Will Hit the South's Economy
Associated Press, A Look at How Trump's Climate Move Affects the Coal Industry
Science, What's the Damage from Climate Change? NPR, Mapping the Potential Economic Effects of Climate Change

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