Payne Scholars: Student Commentary Series

World-class insights helping to inform and shape public
policy on earth resources, energy, and the environment

PAYNE SCHOLARS PROGRAM

The Payne Scholars program gives students the opportunity to perform research, collaborate across campus and engage with a broad network of international experts on global policy challenges. As part of a one-credit independent study course, Payne Scholars participate in The Payne Institute activities, write a paper for The Payne Institute Commentary series and develop a research proposal on a related policy topic during the spring semester. 

Payne Scholars: Student Commentary Series Spring 2020

NUDGING TO ZERO: POLICY STEPS TO DECARBONIZE THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR

Payne Student Scholar Brett Shearer writes about how the majority of states have mandated renewable energy targets, and electric utilities have supported the transition to net-zero generation with self-imposed emissions targets. Consumers appear to agree, with many calling for action to fight climate change. We have thus reached a rare consensus between significant numbers of policymakers, the electric utilities, and the general public. That consensus, however, does not hold when the topic turns to how to achieve the agreed objective. The disagreements over the necessary policy steps moving forward now risk slowing or stopping the progress that has already been made within the electricity sector. July 21, 2020.

THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF PUMPED STORAGE HYDRO IN COLORADO’S ENERGY TRANSITION

Payne Student Scholar Gabe Stephens investigates how the energy transition has created a conflicting set of circumstances for Colorado and its communities. The state’s renewable energy industry has experienced rapid advancements, while the incumbent coal industry has endured a steady decline. Communities that have long relied on coal for their economic well-being are faced with an increasingly difficult outlook. Few areas in the state are experiencing this more than Moffat and Routt Counties, who account for the majority of the state’s remaining coal industry. The State government has pledged to support these communities through a ‘Just Transition’ initiative designed to offset the economic impacts associated with the industry’s decline. June 26, 2020.

A MOVE TO MASS TRANSIT

Payne Student Scholar Tyler Pritchard investigates the viability of increased public transportation capacity and the potential benefits of such improved capacity in the state of Colorado. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that Colorado is capable of improving its public transportation capacity and able to achieve substantial environmental benefits from such development. This analysis is based on the comparison of transportation data from Colorado, Sweden, and Norway in terms of annual transit rides per head, transportation sector energy consumption, transportation sector CO2 emissions, and annual vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT).  June 25, 2020.

HOW CHINESE INVESTMENT IN AFRICAN NATURAL RESOURCES LEADS TO DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Payne Student Scholar Caleb Workman writes about how Chinese investment on the African continent, while contentious, has many benefits. Currently, Chinese private and state-owned firms are heavily involved in Africa through direct investment and commodity-backed loans. These firms invest in infrastructure, natural resource extraction, manufacturing, and service industries. African countries contain natural resources and a low-wage labor market, while Chinese companies have expertise and capital. As a result, the relationship between China and Africa presents mutually beneficial opportunities. African countries gain the potential to experience exceptional economic development in the future due to Chinese involvement.  June 16, 2020.