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Stories for November 2020
Climate 21 Project Outlines 'Whole-of-Government' Approach to Climate Change
President-elect Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to move quickly on a whole-of-government approach to step up the United States’ efforts in the fight against climate change. A project facilitated by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions lays out a path for the incoming administration to take that kind of urgent and meaningful action across the federal government starting on Inauguration Day.

Developed over a year and a half, the Climate 21 Project tapped the expertise of more than 150 experts with high-level government experience—including nine former cabinet appointees—to deliver advice for a climate response that could be coordinated by the White House and accountable directly to the President. The project’s recommendations were produced by a steering committee co-chaired by Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute, and Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president of energy and environment policy at the Center for American Progress.
Market Assessment Finds N.C. Clean Energy Fund Would Spur Projects to Cut Emissions, Create Jobs
The Nicholas Institute and Coalition for Green Capital co-hosted a webinar on Nov. 17 to discuss opportunities for a North Carolina Clean Energy Fund and how it supports the goals of the N.C. Clean Energy Plan.

Click the image to the left or here to watch a video replay.
A North Carolina Clean Energy Fund would support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by equitably investing in clean and efficient energy solutions for the state, according to a new market assessment from Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Coalition for Green Capital (CGC).

The assessment estimates that $100 million in funding could catalyze private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency projects, potentially leading to creation of 15,000 jobs in North Carolina within the fund’s first five years of operation. For comparison, an estimated 21,000 clean energy workers, or roughly a fifth of the state’s pre-pandemic clean energy workforce, remained unemployed in North Carolina as of July. Any new jobs created by a Clean Energy Fund would support a range of projects to help meet the goals of the N.C. Clean Energy Plan—a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector below 2005 levels by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
Partnership Between Duke and FAO Illuminates Importance of Small-Scale Fisheries
Click the image to the left or here to watch a video about how research collaborations between Duke University and FAO provide students with the opportunity to engage and contribute to the scholarship, policy, and sustainability of small-scale fisheries around the globe.
Small-scale fisheries have a big role to play in feeding an ever-growing population, particularly in developing countries. They also provide jobs for millions in local communities around the world and are pivotal to protecting natural habitats and biodiversity. Yet their contributions to creating a sustainable future for the planet are not well understood by policy makers and often overlooked.

During a virtual event in October, representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Duke University announced a new partnership that aims to shed more light on small-scale fisheries. Formalized through a memorandum of understanding, the partnership builds on ongoing research collaborations between FAO and Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Marine Lab, and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The agreement also opens the door for FAO and Duke to collaborate on additional areas of study, potentially including seafood markets, aquaculture, mangrove restoration and forests.
Duke Team Develops Technology Inventory to Help Policy Makers Address Marine Plastic Pollution
Duke University researchers have created a new online resource designed to help local governments, conservation groups, businesses and other stakeholders identify the best technologies to clean up plastic pollution in our oceans or prevent it from getting there in the first place.

The Plastic Pollution Prevention and Collection Technology Inventory includes 52 different technologies, from solar-powered catamarans that use conveyor belts to scoop up floating debris, to underwater bubble tubes that force submerged bits of plastic to the surface where they can more easily be collected.
Exploring Innovative Transportation Policies
The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI)—a collection of Northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia—is considering a carbon price on transportation fuels, with revenues to be invested in modernizing the transportation sector. The TCI seeks to expand safe and reliable transportation options, lower transportation costs, improve overall air quality and public health, as well as mitigate climate change.

Three organizations—Resources for the Future (RFF), Environmental Defense Fund, and the Nicholas Institute—organized a two-day virtual workshop to inform conversations among the states about how this effort can be most effective. The workshop was held under the Chatham House Rule, but many speakers granted permission to post their presentations along with the agenda on RFF's website.

Lauren A. Patterson and Martin W. Doyle

This paper explores the evolution of water services in the United States. Most people have access to water, most tap water is drinkable, most dams are secure, most farms can grow more with less water, and most rivers are cleaner than they were 50 years ago. Most does not mean all. There is growing evidence that an increasing number of Americans are losing access to safe drinking water and sanitation—and others never had it at all.

Kate Konschnik and Jennie Chen

The purpose of this policy brief is to describe different ways to engender consumer choice, third-party participation, resource sharing, and regional grid management in the power sector, using existing examples from this region. It includes questions stakeholders might think through in these conversations, and fundamentally aims to educate and inform.

Transform Aqorau, Kamal Azmi, Elizabeth Havice, Stuart Kaye, Stuart Kininmonth, Moses Mataika, Sarah McTee, Anthony Morrison, Lars Olsen, Mark Soboil, Siale Suamalie, Salome Taufa, Alice Thomas-Smyth, and John Virdin

This study was conducted in order to identify options for the transferability of fishing rights in the context of Pacific Island commercial longline and purse seine tuna fisheries.

The motivation for conducting this study was to provide information that can assist policy makers and fisheries managers in the region to consider if this policy instrument (enhanced transferability of fishing rights) could support achievement of the goals agreed in the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries. 

Emma Schmaltz, Emily C. Melvin, Zoie Diana, Ella F. Gunady, Daniel Rittschof External link, Jason A. Somarell, John Virdin, Meagan M. Dunphy-Daly

Our Plastic Pollution Prevention and Collection Technology Inventory can be used as a roadmap for researchers and governments to 1) facilitate comparisons between the scope of solutions and the breadth and severity of the plastic pollution problem and 2) assist in identifying strengths and weaknesses of current technological approaches.

We created this inventory from a systematic search and review of resources that identified technologies. We identified 52 technologies that fall into the two categories of prevention or collection of plastic pollution.

A comprehensive approach is needed that combines technology, policymaking, and advocacy to prevent further plastic pollution and the subsequent damage to aquatic ecosystems and human health.

Rachel Bash, Walker Grimshaw, Kat Horan, Ruby Stanmyer, Simon Warren, and Lauren Patterson

This report focuses on the challenges facing water utilities in areas where population has declined in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A total of 16 water systems were broadly analyzed, with in-depth analyses of four municipal water systems in the cities of Altoona, Chester, Johnstown, and Reading. These four cases highlight some of the overall trends and complications faced by shrinking cities.

Pawan G. Patil, John Virdin, and Charles S. Colgan

Within the last five years, the concept of the Blue Economy has entered into widespread use around the world. The list of countries whose governments have promoted this concept in various forms as a strategy for economic development has grown long, and examples include: Australia, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia and a number of small island developing states such as Grenada and Mauritius. Across these countries the concept has been defined and applied very differently, and as a result has been characterised at times as a “buzzword” that has general agreement in the abstract but not in practice. 

In some cases, the Blue Economy concept has been promoted as a response to a vision of rapidly increasing human activity in the ocean, labelled an “economic frontier” for an expanding population searching for new sources of growth, equipped with emerging technologies that make the global ocean and its resources more accessible. To some extent, the concept has evolved from the earlier idea of an “ocean economy,” which aimed to link a diverse set of economic activities and industries under one label, because they all in some way shared the ocean as a physical context. For this reason, the concept of the ocean economy first needs some description, and to be distinguished from the concept of a Blue Economy.

Sara A. MasonLydia P. Olander, Robert K. Grala, Christopher S. Galik, Jason S. Gordon

Large landscape conservation planning often requires managers to coordinate with private landowners, especially in regions like the southern and western U.S. where private landownership dominates. It is often difficult to design conservation programs that incorporate varying landowner perceptions, values, and ownership objectives. Simple and transferable methods are needed to inform the design of landscape-scale conservation and restoration programs, and we propose that this can be done by targeting ecosystem services (ES) of interest to private landowners. Targeting multiple ecosystem benefits can identify areas that provide cost-effective conservation investments. The approach described here consists of three complementary steps: mapping potential ES provision, assessing landowner interest in these ES, and determining which institutions are most effective for engaging landowners. We integrate these three streams of information to identify areas where landowner and conservation priorities align with ES benefits, and where interaction with familiar organizations is likely increase landowner engagement in conservation practices.

Ryan S.D. Calder, Mark E. Borsuk, and Celine S. Robinson

Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC), a nuclear generating facility that has provided roughly 15 TW·h per year of low-emissions power to the New York City area, will close by 2021. There has been debate over the potential responses to the closure of IPEC which include the development of new generation and transmission infrastructure.

This study identifies conceivable scenarios for responding to the closure of IPEC and uses publicly available data to quantify the plausible ranges of direct and indirect economic and environmental costs and benefits of each scenario over the period 2021–2050. To the extent possible, environmental impacts are paired with economic valuations to enable comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. Comprehensive uncertainty analysis includes the explicit consideration of key parameters as uncertain variables and an extensive sensitivity analysis in which the impact of modeling assumptions on overall results is assessed.
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