Stories for March 2020
Message from the Director
Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you well. As usual, this month’s edition of our newsletter highlights the Nicholas Institute’s latest environmental and energy policy work. Of course, these are anything but usual times.

You have no doubt received a flurry of emails about COVID-19 from a variety of organizations and companies—some you may have long forgotten you subscribed to. I want to briefly add to the chorus to explain how we are doing our part at the Nicholas Institute to contain the spread while continuing to operate.

Following the directives of public health officials, Duke University has implemented several steps to minimize opportunities for community exposure. You can read more about the University’s response at For our team at the Nicholas Institute, this has meant fully transitioning to conducting our work remotely. Meetings big and small, as well as classes for Duke students, are being replaced by video conferencing, email, and instant messaging.

While we are practicing social distancing like so many others, we are not far away. The environmental and energy challenges that the world faces have not disappeared. With that in mind, our dedicated professionals are carrying on with developing practical solutions for meeting these challenges by connecting decision makers with Duke’s world-class research. For the moment, those connections are simply digital rather than in person.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be unveiling initiatives in cooperation with our partners to address issues ranging from oceanic plastic pollution to rural voters’ attitudes on the environment to North Carolina’s efforts to combat climate change and more. We look forward to sharing those with you in future editions of this newsletter, on our website, and via social media. And as always, we encourage you to reach out a virtual hand to us to discuss ways that we can collaborate.

Tim Profeta
Director, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Experts, Policy Makers Discuss Carbon Pricing
in Wholesale Energy Markets
As states advance their climate policies with ambitious clean energy targets, wholesale market operators are grappling with questions about if and how electricity markets should evolve as a response. Several ISOs/RTOs are looking to change their market rules to include carbon pricing, but there is a diversity in approaches.

New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity and the Nicholas Institute hosted a conference that focused on the different approaches for carbon pricing in wholesale energy markets. Experts from around the country discussed current initiatives, legal issues, and stakeholder perspectives. The conference featured opening remarks from FERC Commissioner Richard Glick and a lunchtime discussion with former FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, who serves on the Nicholas Institute's Board of Directors.
Nicholas Institute Welcomes DKU's Fürst
as Faculty Affiliate
The Nicholas Institute is pleased to announce  Kathinka Fürst as a new faculty affiliate. Fürst holds a dual appointment as assistant adjunct professor of environmental policy at  Duke Kunshan University (DKU) and serves as associate director of DKU’s Environmental Research Center.

Fürst's work focuses on environmental regulation and justice in China. She brings that research lens to collaborations with Nicholas Institute professionals on areas of shared interest, including:

  • Analyzing China’s national and subnational regulatory plastic frameworks as part of a broader effort to evaluate policies for reducing oceanic plastic pollution
  • Exploring the roles of Chinese NGOs in attempting to shape a green Belt and Road Initiative
  • Becoming part of the founding team of the High Seas at Duke consortium
25x25 Electricity Access Acceleration Collaborative Among Top Proposals for MacArthur $100M Grant
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has named “ 25x25: End Energy Poverty Faster” as one of the 100 highest-scoring proposals in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges.

The proposal was submitted by the 25x25 Electricity Access Acceleration Collaborative, comprised of the Duke University Energy Access Project, Hivos, New Energy Nexus, Practical Action, and Power for All. The proposal consisted of detailed plans to challenge the energy-as-usual development—including legacy policy and finance frameworks—that slow the pace of clean energy access. The 25x25 Collaborative’s ultimate goal is to accelerate the achievement of SDG7, ensuring access for all to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy by 2030.
Bridge Collaborative Announces
2020 Bridge Spark Fund Winners
The Bridge Collaborative announced in February the four winning teams of the 2020 Bridge Spark Fund whose work will deliver solutions that benefit people and the planet.

The projects, selected by a panel of distinguished judges, will take steps toward stabilizing the climate, improving food systems, building healthier communities, cleaning up water supplies and improving the environment. Using a surprising set of approaches—from bats to electricity technology, and seaweed to infrastructure bonds—these teams are charting a course to a better, more sustainable future.

The Bridge Spark Fund is run by the Bridge Collaborative, a global change agent driving a fundamental shift in how we think, plan, fund, and work across sectors to make bigger change faster. Founded in 2016, the Collaborative is a partnership spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy, Duke University, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and PATH.

Katie Warnell

This methods brief focuses on access to recreational open space, which is a key component of mental health and well-being. This analysis maps the supply of publicly accessible open spaces relative to where people live. Regional priority areas for the creation of new open space through conservation are identified based on a metric representing the number of people who would benefit from new recreational open space if it were created in that area. Spatial datasets for these priority areas and associated metrics are available on  ScienceBase .
In the News