August 2015 – by Stephanie Panlasigui, Jimena Rico-Straffon, Jennifer Swenson, Colby J. Loucks, and Alexander Pfaff
Conservation agendas and development agendas often are viewed as contradictory and, in the past, one or the other drove most forest policy. Yet leading conservation policies such as protected areas (PAs) increasingly combine the two. Sustainable forest management pushes integration from a starting point of development. One of the most visible initiatives of this type is certification of logging concessions, such as by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), to reduce various impacts of logging. The cost of sustainable management may lead firms not to certify a given concession, yet the potential benefits could lead firms to voluntarily certify at least some concessions (firms might benefit from strategies that raise forest loss elsewhere). This empirical analyses of two countries, Peru and Cameroon, aids in understanding what happened at certified sites during the relatively early days of certifications. It controls for unobserved factors’ influences over space and time, without which impacts—sometimes perverse—are mistakenly attributed to FSC certification (FSCC). In Peru, no average FSCC deforestation impact is observed in the study area (almost all concessions). One region, Madre de Dios, has an average reduction of 0.07% per year. In Cameroon, a small average FSCC deforestation impact of 0.02% per year is observed in the study area (all concessions), though in four of five regions there is no statistically significant effect. As available data improve, more impact may be observed in some conditions.
July 2015 – by Gale Boyd and Jay S. Golden
A growing number of companies report changes in energy use or other measures of “sustainability” on an intensity basis. However, when the mix of products produced is changing, it is hard to tell if a change in intensity is due to efficiency or simply changes in the types of products they produce. This paper draws a parallel between the problem of corporate reporting of sustainability and the empirical application of index decomposition analysis (IDA) of trends in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Although a variety of index numbers have been proposed by this literature, this paper presents one, the Fisher index, as a good choice and leaves the application of other index numbers in the literature to the reader. An example using real world data from the seven divisions of a large, energy-intensive company, Corning, is presented.
July 2015 – by Gale Boyd
Over the past several years, there has been growing interest among policy makers and others in the role that industrial energy efficiency can play in climate, air, and other potential regulatory actives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has supported development of sector-specific industrial energy efficiency case studies using statistical analysis of plant-level data to assess the distribution of energy use, controlling for a variety of plant production characteristics. These case studies are the basis for the ENERGY STAR® Energy Performance Indicators (EPI). To date, there are EPI for 14 broad industries, two dozen sectors, and many more detailed product types. This paper is a meta-analysis of the approach used in this research and general findings regarding the range of performance within and across industries. Observations about industrial plant benchmarking and lessons are explored. It appears that few sectors are well represented by a simple “energy per widget” benchmark, that less energy-intensive sectors tend to exhibit a wider range of within-industry performance than energy intensive sectors, and that changes over time in the level and range of energy performance reveal no single pattern.
June 2015 – by Joseph E. Aldy, William A. Pizer, and Keigo Akimoto
A natural outcome of the emerging pledge and review approach to international climate change policy is interest in comparing mitigation effort among countries. Domestic publics and stakeholders will have an interest in knowing if peer countries are undertaking (or planning to undertake) comparable effort in mitigating their greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, if considered inadequate to address the risks posed by climate change, the aggregate effort will likely prompt broader interest in identifying those countries where greater effort is arguably warranted on the basis of peer comparisons. Both assessments require metrics of effort and comparisons among countries. We propose a framework for such an exercise, drawing from a set of principles for designing and implementing informative metrics. We present a template for organizing metrics on mitigation effort, for both ex-ante and ex-post review. We also provide preliminary assessments of effort along emissions, price, and cost metrics for post–2020 climate policy contributions by China, the European Union, Russia, and the United States. We close with a discussion of the role of academics and civil society in promoting transparency and facilitating the evaluation and comparison of effort.
April 2015 – by M. Jeuland, M. McClatchey, S.R. Patil, S.K. Pattanayak, C.M. Poulos, and J.C. Yang
Highly advanced, community-level drinking water treatment facilities are increasingly viewed as water supply solutions in locations where piped in-house water systems are nonexistent or unreliable. These systems utilize combined technologies, such as advanced filtration plus ultraviolet disinfection or reverse osmosis, which are known to be highly effective for the removal of pathogens and other water contaminants. Yet there is a paucity of rigorous evidence on whether the community-level treatment model delivers water quality, health, or other benefits to households that source water from them. This paper utilizes a quasi-experimental approach that combines construction of counterfactual groups of villages and households and a difference-in-difference methodology to examine such impacts. We find low rates of sourcing water from the facilities (~10%) and little evidence of benefits among households living in villages receiving a community water system (CWS). Particularly among users of the CWS, we also observe short-term increases in the number of drinking water sources used and in monthly expenses on drinking water combined with decreases in in-house water treatment as well as higher reported rates of diarrheal diseases among children. In the long term, as the CWS model spread throughout the region, most of the differences between households in treated communities and control communities fade. These findings suggest that caution and additional scrutiny are warranted before concluding that CWSs provide safer water to households in communities facing drinking water quality problems.