Stories for June
Fulbright Scholar Studies Nicholas Institute's Approach to Interdisciplinary Research
Throughout April, the Nicholas Institute hosted Dr. Paul Bolger, manager of the Environmental Research Institute at University College Cork in Ireland. Bolger is a 2019 Fulbright Irish Scholar who is investigating how interdisciplinary approaches are being utilized at four American universities Duke, Arizona State, Columbia, and Cornell to address global sustainability challenges. During his month in Durham, Bolger conducted surveys and interviews with Nicholas Institute staff and Duke faculty and administrators to get their perspectives on the institute’s work.

Bolger took a few minutes toward the end of his stay to talk about his research and what he learned about the Nicholas Institute. Read the conversation. »
Student-Led Project Looks to Improve
Energy Access in Zambia from the Ground Up
As part of the Energy Access Project, Duke faculty, staff, and students teamed up in creative ways this year on a number of fronts, including through Bass Connections a year-long program that bridges classroom learning and the real world. Three pilot projects in Zambia an off-grid ecosystem and regulatory map, a willingness to pay assessment, and a customizable geospatial model—aim to increase understanding of the off-grid electricity market and to improve system planning. One team identified electricity infrastructure through satellite data and machine learning algorithms, work which will be continuing through the summer and next academic year through Data+ and another Bass Connections project.

* This new item was originally published in the Energy Access Project’s quarterly newsletter. Subscribe here. »
May Publications

Public attention focuses on a policy once a governor makes a formal announcement and sets the debate in motion. However, much of the work happens before that moment, in conversations among state officials and their staff, and with key stakeholders. This memo is intended to support the work of “getting to yes” on a policy—in this case, a declining cap (and trade) program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions—once internal leadership has decided it is worth exploration. The memo reflects conversations with representatives of about a dozen states, including those that have capped carbon pollution, those that are in the process of doing so, and those that see this as a potential policy solution going forward.

Part One of this memo tackles the political case for action on a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program. Part Two describes the practical, nuts-and-bolts considerations to make before a policy announcement, to anticipate questions about design and legal authority, and to rally critical state and third-party resources.

Erika Zambello,  Lydia Olander , Emma Glidden-Lyon, Emily Meza, and Jessica Wilkinson

Over the last decade, efforts to use compensatory mitigation to manage and ameliorate the impacts of development on biodiversity and ecosystems around the world have accelerated. Mitigation mechanisms provide a structured way to advance economic development and infrastructure while also achieving environmental goals. In order to operationalize mitigation programs, practitioners need a methodology for calculating or quantifying impacts and offsets (debits and credits). The methods currently employed in the U.S. and abroad are extremely varied. Surprisingly, the literature on best practices or standards for developing science-based approaches to the quantification of impacts and offsets is sparse and there is also no single broadly accepted best practice guidance.
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In the News

  • Colorado Academy Helps Spur Sweeping State Clean Energy Bills. The Clean Energy Legislative Academy in Breckenridge, Colorado, has played a key role in “activating this clean energy movement across state legislatures,” and helping state lawmakers share ideas and experience with each other, Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, told Bloomberg Environment.