Nives Dolsak

Nives Dolsak
University of Washington Seattle | UW · School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

PhD, Indiana University Bloomington

About

126
Publications
24,288
Reads
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2,521
Citations
Citations since 2017
74 Research Items
1279 Citations
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Introduction
Nives Dolsak currently works at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington Seattle. Nives does research on commons, climate change policy, and role of NGOs in environmental policy.
Additional affiliations
September 2010 - present
University of Washington Seattle
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
September 2002 - present
University of Washington Bothell
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (126)
Article
Promoting energy efficiency is one of the top priorities of the EU energy strategy. Manufacturing is identified there as one of the sectors holding the potential for substantial energy efficiency improvements. This paper therefore examines factors impacting firms' decisions to invest in energy efficiency and clean technologies. Drawing on the energ...
Article
What is the social purpose of the firm? Is the sole or predominant purpose to make profits for the shareholders, as Milton Friedman famously noted, or should firms adopt policies that enhance social welfare, not necessarily increase profits? Should firms as legal "persons" act beyond their usual functions as agents of the shareholders? Should firms...
Article
Full-text available
Decarbonization policies are being stymied by political conflict. Local communities might oppose decarbonization infrastructure such as solar farms, mines, or transmission lines if they view these projects as imposing high costs on them in relation to their benefits. To decarbonize, the automobile industry seeks to shift from the internal combustio...
Article
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The 2015 Paris Agreement outlined the goal to limit temperature increases below 2˚C, preferably to 1.5˚C. In response, several countries have announced net-zero emission pledges (NZEP). The credibility of these pledges varies because countries have committed to different target years. Moreover, some pledges outline sectoral as opposed to economy-wi...
Article
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Climate issues widely feature in policy discussions, but it is not clear if voters reward politicians who champion climate policies. In some countries, candidates and parties with an explicit climate agenda have done well in elections (Switzerland and Germany being recent examples) while in other cases, voters have either ignored climate issues or...
Article
This paper explores whether perceptions about distributive inequity shape public support for energy transition policies. The introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) is an important policy priority for the decarbonization of road transportation. Because high sticker prices restrict EV sales, governments offer consumers EV subsidies. However, some ar...
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The decarbonization of the electricity sector is leading to a substantial increase in the demand for wind energy. Will tribal nations, which account for 7.8% of utility-scale wind capacity, benefit from this policy shift? To examine why tribal nations vary in translating wind energy potential into wind installed capacity, we have constructed an ori...
Article
Aviation emissions account for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions, and by 2050 their share could rise to 22%. This review article explores how climate scholars view the role of structural (policy-or business-focused) or agentic (individual-focused) approaches in reducing these emissions. From a structuralist perspective, aviation emissions requi...
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Full-text available
Aviation emissions account for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions, and by 2050 their share could rise to 22%. This review article explores how climate scholars view the role of structural (policy-or business-focused) or agentic (individual-focused) approaches in reducing these emissions. From a structuralist perspective, aviation emissions requi...
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We examine public support in Japan for overseas climate adaptation assistance via foreign aid and accepting immigrants. Using a survey-embedded conjoint experiment (N=2,815), we focus on seven attributes of an adaptation policy package: (1) the continent in which the country is located; (2) the types of extreme weather event this country faces; (3)...
Article
We examine public support in Japan for overseas climate adaptation assistance via foreign aid and accepting immigrants. Using a survey-embedded conjoint experiment (N=2,815), we focus on seven attributes of an adaptation policy package: (1) the continent in which the country is located; (2) the types of extreme weather event this country faces; (3)...
Preprint
Institutional arrangements are key for problem-solving; therefore, pandemics require a strong governance response. While a plethora of ideas about prevention actions for pandemics have been advanced, there has been relatively limited consideration for how those can be operationalized through governance macro structures, particularly within the cont...
Article
Political problems are impeding the realization of the net-zero emissions by 2050 target. It is clear that mitigation alone will not be able to deliver on it. In any case, the recognition of “net” in net-zero acknowledges that carbon capture will play a role in achieving the 2050 target. So, instead of quietly smuggling it in in the policy mix, why...
Article
We published a commentary today: "Pew Reports Widespread Support For Low-Emission Lifestyles. Will Individuals Then Cut Down On Air Travel?" As per a recent Pew survey, 80% of respondents are willing to adopt low-emission lifestyles. Is this cheap talk or people are actually willing to walk the climate talk? We suggest testing this in the context...
Article
Climate change requires switching to electricity from fossil fuels. The discussion tends to focus on how to generate electricity using renewables, but less on how to move it reliably to consumers. Storms, which will become more frequent and severe, lead to power outages. Without a reliable electricity supply, life will shut down. With EVs, we will...
Article
We published a commentary in response to Larry Fink’s proposal for annual $100 billion for climate mitigation aid. Fink’s argument is that developing countries do not have the resources to decarbonize, overseas institutional investors can help but fear political risks. He suggests that $100 billion aid can reduce these risks, without clarifying how...
Article
An extensive literature identifies conditions under which markets and states work efficiently and effectively towards their stated missions. When these conditions are violated, these institutions are deemed to show some level of failure. In contrast to the study of market and government failures, scholars have tended to focus on non-governmental or...
Article
We published a piece on forbes.com entitled, U.S. Climate Agenda In The Aftermath Of The Afghanistan Withdrawal. Could American unilateralism on Afghanistan affect Biden’s climate agenda? One may be tempted to say no, because climate change and Afghanistan are unrelated issues. However, if Afghanistan continues to swamp the U.S. news cycle with th...
Article
New York and Seattle are holding Mayoral elections but candidates are not talking about climate change. This is surprising because both are liberal cities with a sizable climate constituency. Moreover, both cities have experienced the impact of extreme weather events. We suggest that climate issues will get traction when their local consequences ar...
Article
Many would think of wildfires, droughts, floods, and now the IPCC report as "focusing events" that would lead to new and vigorous climate policy. Yet, there is a sense of climate lethargy. There is also policy confusion. Biden wants OPEC to increase oil production because gas prices are too high. Issues such as Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan wil...
Article
Branson and Bezos are in a strange space competition. The problem is that space tourism that they want to promote is a carbon intensive and an elitist activity. And at the same time, they seek to be recognized as climate leaders. With the effects of climate change grimly visible everywhere -- droughts, forest fires, water shortages, hurricanes and...
Article
There is overwhelming consensus about the science of climate change. Climate politics, however, remains volatile, driven by perceptions of injustice, which motivate policy resistance and undermine policy legitimacy. We identify three types of injustice. The first pertains to the uneven exposure to climate change impacts across countries and communi...
Article
Dutch Courts have found Shell to be liable for emissions consumers generate when they use gas and diesel, and asked for drastic reductions. Chevron's shareholders want to company to assume responsibility for such emissions as well. ExxonMobile's shareholders elected 2 new directors (over the objections of the management) that support climate issues...
Article
Many parts of the world are suffering from unprecedented heat waves. Urban areas are particularly vulnerable, especially the neighborhoods that lack canopy cover. This where poor and underprivileged households often reside. To correct tree inequity, we propose that firms that seek climate leadership should commit to correcting the tree inequity in...
Article
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Bangladesh faces a severe rural to urban migration challenge, which is accentuated by climate change and the Rohingya crisis. These migrants often reside in urban slums and struggle to access public services, which are already short in supply for existing slum dwellers. Given the inadequacy of governmental efforts, nonprofits have assumed responsib...
Article
Cloé Zhao’s movie Nomadland (based on Jessica Bruder’s novel) is receiving rave reviews. It also has important implications for the climate debate. The movie vividly reveals the economic challenges from economic shocks arising from business cycles and globalization. As the world moves away from fossil fuels – which it should – the ensuing economic...
Article
Political polarization is shaping the shouting match over India’s new farm laws. For BJP supporters, these laws give farmers the freedom to decide where and to whom they sell their crops. The opposing camp insists that the new farm laws reflect Prime Minister Modi’s dictatorial tendencies and allow big businesses to take over the farming sector. Ne...
Article
Zero-emission is now the lodestar for climate policy. It is inspirational and evocative. It helps political mobilization by identifying a measurable target to assess policy progress. But is it achievable? Just as goals without budgets are delusions, the zero-emission target without a supply chain is a sound bite. Moreover, might a singular focus on...
Article
ifty years ago, Milton Friedman made the case that socially responsible firms should focus on a single objective: maximizing profits for their shareholders. Should, then, managers support climate actions in response to stakeholders’ (as opposed to shareholders') pressure? Eighty percent of companies listed on the S&P 500 now voluntarily report on t...
Article
India has enacted new laws that lift restrictions on where and to whom farmers can sell their crops. Why are then Indian farmers protesting? The reason is that farmers perceive the new system to be risky and favoring big corporations. They fear that if new laws make family-owned farms unviable, they will not be able to find jobs elsewhere, given th...
Article
McKinsey Scott has donated $4.2 billion to 384 nonprofit organizations. Jeff Bezos donated $791 million to 16 organizations. These donations reveal their different priorities and approaches. Scott supports equity-focused organizations with low access to philanthropic capital. Bezos supports well-resourced environmental non-profits. These donations...
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Public support for policy instruments is influenced by perceptions of how benefits and costs are distributed across various groups. We examine different carbon tax designs outlining different ways to distribute tax revenues. Using a national online sample of 1,606 U.S. respondents, we examine support for a $20/ton carbon tax that is: (1) Revenue Ne...
Article
President-elect Biden announced today that John Kerry, the former Secretary of State, will serve as his Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. As the Climate Envoy, Kerry will be involved in global policy, but without much influence over domestic legislation. This could undermine his effectiveness in the international sphere. Further, he could dup...
Article
The 2020 elections raise red flags for climate policy. This was supposed to be a climate election but turned out to be a “COVID-19 versus the economy” election. Exit polls suggest that Democrats and Republicans are divided on the urgency to tackle the climate crisis. Science about climate change is settled, but politics is not. Biden’s “Build Back...
Article
We published this commentary today. The Bezos Earth Fund (BEF) is giving away $791 million to well-established climate NGOs doing important work. However, if BEF wants to change climate action’s playbook, it needs a new theory of change that tackles the key barrier to climate action. Funding these NGOs does not achieve this objective. Here is a com...
Article
Climate change is leading to increased severity and frequency of heatwaves that hurt some groups more than others. Those who suffer the most are the poor who, ironically, have small carbon footprints. In this commentary, we outline why low-income households suffer more and how changes in data reporting could increase the visibility of climate inequ...
Article
Different countries have proposed COVID-19 recovery packages, with and without climate conditionalities. China, inspite of its leadership in the renewable sector, continues to support the fossil fuel industry. In a Monkey Cage commentary published this morning, Hanjie Wang, Nives Dolsak, and I explain why this might be so. We suggest that climate p...
Article
Amazon announced its latest climate investment, the purchase of the right to rename Seattle's Key Arena as the Climate Pledge Arena. The arena renaming announcement comes at an interesting time. Early this week, Amazon released its 2020 Sustainability Report, where it noted a 15% increase in emissions since last year. Moreover, Amazon is getting b...
Article
People want action on climate change, as the recent Pew Poll reveals: 65% of respondents believe the government is doing too little to tackle climate change, while 73% (including 55% of Republicans) want governments to tax corporations based on their emissions. Corporations are clearly hearing this message. Amazon released its 2020 Sustainability R...
Article
This is a brief piece on Oliver Williamson's contributions to our understanding of firms' decisions on undertaking some activities themselves, while subcontracting others to outside vendors. For Williamson, firms grow due to technological imperatives. His work also informs the political debate on how to regulate tech platforms. See here: https://w...
Article
There is bipartisan support for national parks. The US Senate is considering the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422) to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and clear the maintenance backlog in national parks. Many states want their federal lands to be designated as national parks. All this is excellent; national parks are the c...
Article
https://www.forbes.com/sites/prakashdolsak/2020/05/30/have-banks-become-climate-advocates-interpreting-shareholder-votes-and-lending-policies-regarding-the-fossil-fuel-sector/#612ff2443812
Article
The contrast between the rapid response to Coronavirus and policy waffling on climate change reveals how citizens think of risk and how this shapes their willingness to incur costs for the collective good. Further, it suggests that politicians respect science when its recommendations serve their political ends. https://www.forbes.com/sites/prakash...
Article
Climate change is fundamentally a political problem. It requires a political solution, namely taking care of the needs of the sectors that will bear the cost of transition to a low carbon economy. While government policies will certainly help, private philanthropy can play an important role. Via the Earth Fund, Jeff Bezos has a tremendous opportuni...
Article
Our future is urban, yet air quality in cities is increasingly toxic, causing millions of premature deaths each year. In the wake of last year’s Clean Air Cities Declaration, this Voices asks, how and where should we focus efforts to improve air quality in cities?
Article
Microsoft has challenged the high tech industry to become climate leaders. It has committed to ambitious targets, particularly in the realm of greening the supply chain. It has acknowledged its historical emissions, and it has pledged to remove them from the atmosphere. However, it continues to assist fossil fuel firms in expanding the supply of fo...
Article
Amazon is a global icon. It thinks long term and disrupts industries. It should show continued leadership by working with its employees to address the climate crisis. This may also renew and strengthen its social license to operate. https://www.forbes.com/sites/prakashdolsak/2020/01/29/the-business-case-for-climate-leadership-amazons-social-license...
Article
Complex policy problems such as climate change that spill over multiple issue areas or jurisdictions often require new policy approaches because sectoral (or territorial) policies are not designed to tackle the issue of policy spillovers. Yet, cross-sectoral policies upset the status quo and invite a political backlash from departments and individu...
Article
The state of Washington saw a “blue wave” in the November 2018 midterm elections. Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell was reelected with 58.4% of the vote. In the House of Representative elections, Democrats snatched the 8th Congressional district from Republicans. And yet, the carbon tax initiative (I-1631) lost, securing only 43.5% of the vote. A n...
Article
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We examine why India's Supreme Court has selectively intervened to enforce environmental laws. While the Indian Judiciary has substantial political insulation, judges recognize the need for tactical balancing to preserve the legitimacy of their institution. We examine four cases: judicial interventions to check water pollution from tanneries and to...
Article
We examine Twitter data to assess the impact of media exposes on the reputations of two international nonprofits, Oxfam and Save the Children (STC). Using a random sample of 6794 Tweets, we study the daily gap between positive and negative sentiments expressed towards these organizations. The “unweighted gap” and the “weighted gap” (weighted by the...
Article
Climate action has two pillars: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation faces collective action issues because its costs are focused on specific locations/actors but benefits are global and nonexcludable. Adaptation, in contrast, creates local benefits, and therefore should face fewer collective action issues. However, governance units vary in the ty...
Article
There is no such thing as free lunch in environmental policy. Somebody, somewhere has to pay for climate protection. Three facets of climate justice are examined: disproportionate impact of climate bads, the ease with which citizens can benefit from environmental public goods provided by the government, and who bears the cost of environmental prote...
Article
Can information about adaptation costs influence citizens’willingness to support climate change mitigation? Some scholars are concerned that policy discussions on adaptation might present climate change as a more manageable problem, and therefore crowd out mitigation efforts.On the other hand, providing information on adaptation costs may sensitize...
Article
Climate action has two pillars: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation faces collective action issues because its costs are focused on specific locations/ actors but benefits are global and nonexcludable. Adaptation, in contrast, creates local benefits, and therefore should face fewer collective action issues. However, governance units vary in the t...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Interrelated social and ecological challenges demand an understanding of how environmental change and management decisions affect human well-being. This paper outlines a framework for measuring human well-being for ecosystem-based management (EBM). We present a prototype that can be adapted and developed for various scales and context...
Article
Available at the Regulatory Review: https://www.theregreview.org/2017/07/11/dolsak-prakash-solar-wall/
Article
Political science models may help explain the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
Article
When international organizations face legitimacy problems, they need to address governance issues, conflicts of interest, and poor leadership
Article
Available at The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/are-we-overreacting-to-us-withdrawal-from-the-paris-agreement-on-climate-78741
Article
On March 29, Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, denied a petition asking for a ban on the use of an insecticide called Chlorpyrifos. The petitioners, Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council, cited studies show that Chlorpyrifos can have serious health consequences, such as damaging the nerv...
Article
Most movements need public faces that epitomize their core ideals. The environmental movement has a profound moral message. It portrays the fossil fuel industry as its main enemy. It asks banks not to make loans to fossil fuel firms, lobbies pension funds, institutions, and even universities to divest their fossil fuel stocks. Gore and DiCaprio, wi...
Article
Under President Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency is on the chopping block. Both the president's proposed budget and his executive orders on cutting regulations would shrink the EPA. But of the 38 EPA programs that the Trump administration has proposed cutting, at least one is quite surprising: the popular — and voluntary — Energy Star pro...
Article
Recently, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Burlington and Belk have stopped carrying Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing, shoes and jewelry — apparently in response to consumer pressure. Now there are reports that Kmart and Sears are discontinuing online sales of the Trump home collection, which included furniture, lamps and chandeliers. But on the other hand...
Article
Full-text available
Social capital generated by frequent, face-to-face interactions provides the foundation for collective action. Does this also hold for a community action in post-communist, Central European countries where modern NGOs are perceived to be ineffective? This article examines this question in the context of the cleanup of illegal dumpsites organized by...
Article
Environmental issues had a marginal impact on this year’s elections. This hard truth, and the strong pro-fossil-fuel tilt of President-elect Trump’s cabinet, are a wake-up call for the U.S. environmental movement. To become an influential social movement once again, U.S. environmentalists will need to “go local.” Instead of telling people what the...
Article
Now that we have elected a new president, environmentalists need to figure out how to survive the next four years of Trump presidency. It’s not going to be easy.
Article
The Brexit vote has come and gone. After the initial shock, the world seems to have refocused on events elsewhere. Importantly, the British economy is doing fine; the British pound trades more or less at the same level against the US dollar or the Euro, as it did prior to the Brexit vote. Did then the media exaggerate the threat of Brexit to the Br...
Article
In the Pacific Northwest, residents are mobilizing to prevent the coastal export of fossil fuels and protect unique ecosystems and place-based communities. This paper examines the diverse groups, largely from the Bellingham area, and how they succeeded in blocking construction of what was to be the largest coal-shipping port in North America, the G...
Article
Traditionally, activists have tried to lobby government to prevent energy firms from accessing new areas for oil, gas and coal, to regulate how they refine oil, extract coal, and generate electricity. They have sought tougher fuel efficiency standards and mandates for electricity companies to use of renewables in electricity generation. Sometimes t...
Article
How does strength of domestic NGOs influence participation in the Covenants of Mayors program? Launched by the European Commission in 2008, this program invites local and regional authorities to voluntarily commit to implementing EU climate change and energy policies. We focus on the transitional countries of Eastern Europe and Eurasia to examine w...
Article
The Brexit vote surprised many observers. Most pollsters and financial analysts incorrectly predicted the final outcome. Since the vote, we've seen two main media narratives about what happened. On the one hand, some reported that the pro-Brexit vote was driven by factors such as xenophobia, racism, and misinformation about the economic costs of le...
Article
The Brexit vote shows the perils of relying on technocratic thinking that ignores politics. Environmentalists should think about disaggregate benefits and costs of their preferred policies. They should work towards just transitions that allow groups affected by new climate change regulations to continue to lead decent and meaningful lives.
Research
This tribute to Doug Walker was published in Stanford Social Innovations Review and can be accessed at: http://ssir.org/articles/entry/environmental_inclusion_a_moral_imperative_and_political_necessity
Article
Corporate environmentalism (CE) pertains to firm-level efforts to reduce pollution and resource use along with protecting natural habitats. Importantly, firms pledge to undertake these actions beyond the requirements of the law. Although historically CE efforts focused on resource conservation, their contemporary focus is on pollution reduction to...
Article
Citizens and governments no longer buy the narratives that NGOs are principled and trustworthy, and should therefore be exempt from transparency requirements. NGOs should also recognize (and some do) that they will now be judged on criteria they have used to pass judgement on others. This should be good news for all: if NGOs are principled and virt...
Article
The Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood illustrate that dependence of civil society organizations on government contracts compromises their autonomy, turns them into pawns in political fights, and erodes their legitimacy.

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Projects (5)
Project
Many scholars have drawn particular attention to the critical nature of environmental issues in the 2020 elections. However, the literature on Congressional voting margins has typically focused on four primary schools of thought: corruption, incumbency advantage, campaign spending, and legislative voting record (but mostly in reference to pork barrel spending) (Jacobson and Carson 2019; Jacobson and Kernell 1983; Tufte 1975; Mayhew 1974; Jacobson 1978; Erikson 1971; Stein and Bickers 1994; Ferejohn 1977; Herrnson, Panagopoulos, and Bailey 2019; and Hibbings and Welch 1997). In contrast, this paper seeks to answer to what degree critical environmental voting as an explanatory variable is for the electorate in marginal congressional voting, which is a dependent variable that has been traditionally understudied in the literature. This project aims to examine how Congressional representatives’ prior environmental voting records in 2019 affected electoral margins for House races in the national 2o20 elections. The unit of analysis is the Congressional voting district, and will therefore draw on previous scholarship to generate dependent variables examining how legislative voting record influences marginal voting outcomes (Jacobson 1987; Jacobson 1989; Jacobson and Kernell 1983; Jacobson 2019). The key independent variable in this research design is the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) score of the House representative in 2019 as well as the representative’s lifetime LCV score. We will control for confounding variables such as Senate election present in the same distinct, gubernatorial election, district demography, presidential vote share, and PAC financing to isolate the relationship between environmental record and marginal electoral votes. Future research may expand this theoretical framework and question to include other “climate elections”.
Project
Engaging and including all communities in environmental governance is a moral and political imperative. This project examines ways in which communities build environmental concern and capacity for engagement in environmental governance.