Taking Action in a Changing Climate
In 2021, Yale committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2035 and achieving zero actual carbon emissions by 2050. Net zero will be attained by reducing campus emissions to 50% of 2005 levels and purchasing high-quality verifiable carbon offsets. Zero actual carbon emissions will be accomplished by fully minimizing campus emissions. To achieve these goals, we are reducing energy use in buildings through conservation and efficiency, adhering to sustainable construction and renovation standards for buildings, increasing efficiency in Yale’s on-campus power plants, and promoting behavioral shifts by campus users.
- We strive for responsible energy use through conservation, efficiency upgrades, and creative approaches to campus use.
- Our Greenhouse Gas Emissions reduction strategy steadily moves us toward our 2050 Carbon Neutrality Goal.
- The Carbon Offsets Task Force, a group of students, faculty, and staff, is working to develop recommendations for University leadership. They are creating criteria for meaningful offsets and an operational structure to support a carbon offsets program at Yale.
What You Can Do
Our Objectives and Goals
Achieve carbon neutrality for Yale University by or before 2050
In 2019, President Peter Salovey established a task force to review and propose new ambitious and transformative goals for Yale’s Climate Action initiative, which is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in campus facilities and operations. Made up of interdisciplinary staff and faculty experts, the task force is currently exploring how quickly and aggressively Yale can achieve net zero carbon emissions through a combination of capital projects, community-wide behavioral shifts, and the purchase of offsets.
GHG Emissions Reduction Commitment
By 2020, meet or exceed the 2005 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels.
Since 2005, Yale has reduced its GHG emissions by 43%, despite a 21% increase in campus square footage. Three-fifths of these reductions were the result of consistent investments in our central utility systems, our buildings, and in the energy we bought. The remaining reductions came from the purchase of verified carbon offsets.
Scope 3 Emissions Reduction Program
Employee commuting, air travel, purchased goods and services, capital goods, waste, and downstream assets are analyzed annually, with increasing levels of granularity and data availability. These efforts will be ongoing, with particular focus on purchased goods and services (with an emphasis on construction materials), and an exploration of the ways in which data from student travel is being collected. Going forward, we will report our scope 3 emissions data annually, with the understanding that the process will be iterative and become increasingly refined.
Mitigation and Adaptation
Develop, test, and share climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in support of overall regional resilience.
Campus Resilience Plan
By 2019, create a campus resilience plan that aligns with local and regional adaptation approaches for resiliency.
A Resilience Steering Committee has created a definition and set of guiding principles for development of a Yale Resilience Plan, to be complete by 2023. Stakeholders across campus have been engaged through surveys and workshops to reflect on the university’s strengths and vulnerabilities identified as a result of COVID-19, natural disasters, and the social unrest of 2020.
Incorporate the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and possible governmental responses to climate change in the evaluation of investment opportunities.
Yale Investments and Climate Change
Encourage Yale’s external investment managers to consider the risks and opportunities associated with climate change in their investment processes with respect to Yale’s portfolio.
A February 2020 update reaffirmed climate change as guiding factor in Yale investment policy. The result of Yale’s approach is that “investments with large GHG footprints are disadvantaged relative to investments with small GHG footprints. When taking into account the full costs of climate change, investment capital flows towards less carbon-intensive businesses and away from more carbon-intensive businesses.”