Taking Action in a Changing Climate
In 2005 Yale committed to a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 43% below 2005 levels by 2020. To achieve this goal, and become carbon neutral by 2050, 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 an effort to address the greenhouse gas emissions associated with flights, the Yale Divinity School launched a program to offset the environmental impacts of academic and administrative travel. An extensive stakeholder engagement effort was conducted before finalizing the program, which adds a flat-rate “tax” to all domestic and international flights taken by staff or faculty. Domestic flights incur a $50 charge and international flights incur a $100 charge. The revenue from the charge—which is the first of its kind at Yale—is being used to support sustainability efforts at YDS such the installation of water bottle fillers.
GHG Emissions Reduction Commitment
By 2020, meet or exceed the 2005 commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels.
We have reduced campus emissions by approximately 20% since 2005, despite a 21% increase in campus size. The 2020 target will be met by both absolute emission reductions on-campus combined with off-campus verified emission reductions.
Carbon Neutrality Strategy
By 2019, develop a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by or before 2050.
Yale Facilities created a strategy to achieve carbon neutrality, through a combination of on-campus efforts and the purchase of carbon offsets. Efforts include a commitment to net zero buildings; innovative space utilization; modifications to fuel and equipment; increased onsite renewable energy; and the implementation of aggressive building renovation standards. A task force offered recommendations regarding the purchase of carbon offsets, and a working group has been formed to test options and gather input from the Yale community. The strategy and interim goals are being evaluated and established by a Task Force appointed by the President.
Scope 3 Emissions Reduction Program
Building upon the comprehensive assessment of scope 3 categories conducted in 2018, a more granular data collection and analysis took place in 2019. Employee commuting, air travel, purchased goods and services, capital goods, waste, and downstream assets were analyzed again, showing particularly high impacts from purchased goods and services. Future efforts will include a focused review of 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.
Mitigation and Adaptation
Develop, test, and share climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in support of overall regional resilience.
A student conducted research on climate change-related threats that could impact Yale and the surrounding community. That information is being used to update the university’s Hazard Vulnerability Assessment. Threats include sea level rise, increased extreme weather events and precipitation, higher temperatures and increased heat related illnesses and deaths, and longer seasons for insect borne disease.
Campus Resilience Plan
By 2019, create a campus resilience plan that aligns with local and regional adaptation approaches for resiliency.
Key climate change-related threats to campus have been identified. A workplan is underway to update the university’s hazard vulnerability assessment and advance a strategy to align campus actions with local and regional resiliency work.
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.
Yale continues to work with endowment investment managers to consider the economic impact and risks of climate change on investments. This influences managers’ investment decisions and discussions with portfolio company executives. Yale is exploring non-endowment investment options related to carbon reduction.