Yale’s Role in Climate Change Solutions

December 7, 2015
From: President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak
To:     The Yale Community
Re:     Yale’s Role in Climate Change Solutions

To the Yale Community,

Yale University has accepted a national call to action at a time when world leaders are convening in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are honored that more than sixty Yale students as well as dozens of faculty and alumni are participating in this critical global climate summit. To mark this occasion, and in conjunction with the White House Climate Day of Action, Yale has signed a formal pledge to bring Yale’s leadership, teaching, and research expertise to bear on creating a sustainable future.

This commitment builds upon the considerable progress Yale has made on the six sustainability initiatives announced in August 2014, including the formation of the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force. Last April we shared with you the report of the task force, chaired by Sterling Professor of Economics William Nordhaus, which examined whether it would be feasible and effective for Yale to introduce carbon pricing as a component of its overall environmental sustainability strategy. We are pleased to announce that a pilot project is now under way on our campus to test how carbon pricing can inform and guide climate action at Yale and beyond.

We are grateful to the twenty schools, departments, and other administrative units that have volunteered buildings to test four unique models of carbon pricing. Among the participants is the president’s office in Woodbridge Hall, allowing us to play an active role in this important campus experiment.

Feedback from the participants and an analysis of the results will inform a broader conversation about whether and how to consider potential wider implementation at Yale. We believe that this pilot project can serve as a model for other institutions, expanding Yale’s role as a pioneer in researching, teaching, and designing climate change solutions.  

The carbon charge concept originated as a proposal from Yale undergraduate and graduate students interested in using our campus as a living laboratory for applied research. Students were an integral part of the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force, and many continue to serve in the pilot. Yale’s carbon charge pilot project is an exciting example of how students, faculty members, and staff can collaborate to build a more sustainable and innovative Yale.

We encourage you to explore the project’s website for more information about the pilot, and look forward to following its progress with you over the remainder of the academic year.


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology

Ben Polak
Provost and William C. Brainard Professor of Economics