Yale becomes first university to join Global Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

Yale will become the first university member of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC), a private-public partnership among the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), governments, nonprofits, and private sector companies to strengthen carbon pricing policies through the development of a network for sharing best practices.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde launched the CPLC at the recent COP-21 climate summit in Paris. The CPLC coalition includes over 90 business and strategic partners as well as more than 20 governments, ranging from Germany and France, to Mexico and Chile, to Ethiopia and Morocco.

The announcement was made on March 14 in Mumbai, India during the World Bank’s Corporate Carbon Pricing Leadership Workshop.  Two recent Yale graduate and undergraduate students who work on Yale’s Carbon Charge Project —Jennifer Milikowsky (a 2015 graduate with a joint degree at the Schools of Management and of Forestry and Environmental Studies) and Ryan Laemel (a 2014 graduate of Yale College) — gave presentations at this workshop as well as at the India Climate Policy and Business Conclave in New Delhi on March 15.  

“Universities have a critical role to play in offering leadership, teaching, and research expertise to help develop effective climate change solutions,” said President Peter Salovey. “I am pleased that our Carbon Charge Project has generated international interest. The CPLC’s network gives Yale the opportunity to work with and learn from companies and governments engaged in similar carbon-pricing efforts. It will help our staff improve operations and inspire our students and faculty to conduct relevant research — and to engage in collaborative exchange. I also hope that Yale’s CPLC membership will encourage our university peers to contribute to the global effort toward developing effective carbon pricing mechanisms.”

In 2014, Yale announced the formation of a Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force, chaired by Sterling Professor of Economics William Nordhaus, which examined whether it would be feasible and effective to introduce carbon pricing as a component of the university’s overall environmental sustainability strategy. Since November 2015, a pilot project has been underway on the Yale campus to test how carbon pricing can inform and guide energy conservation at Yale and beyond. (See related story.)

Tom Kerr, principal climate policy officer at the International Finance Corporation and World Bank, said, “As we seek to accelerate the transition toward a low-carbon world, Yale’s practical lessons in designing and putting in place an internal carbon pricing program are an inspiration to companies that want to take action to climate-proof their business models.”

Daniel Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy, and Bradford Gentry, co-chair of Yale’s Sustainability Advisory Council and associate dean for professional practice at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, both served on the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force and were approached by the World Bank about possible CPLC membership for Yale. The two professors will lead a discussion on campus among students, faculty, and staff starting this spring on how Yale may best contribute to CPLC’s global network.

“Carbon charges have emerged as a critical tool for promoting sustainability in the 21st century,” said Esty. “Yale is at the forefront of what I believe will be an important policy dimension of the global response to climate change.”

“By linking the teaching and research expertise of our faculty and students with Yale’s sustainability and energy operations,” said Gentry, “we can use our campus as a living laboratory whereby carbon pricing becomes both an administrative function as well as an incredible educational opportunity.”

“It has been an honor to work this past week with Indian officials, the World Bank, and member companies of the CPLC to share Yale’s carbon charge pilot project,” said Laemel.  “The lessons we are learning are an important extension of our efforts on campus. The CPLC’s network will be an invaluable resource as we continue to test and develop the concept.

Milikowsky, who was a student representative to the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force as a graduate student and now works on the carbon charge project, said: “Reducing our footprint on campus is important, and we have seen exciting progress in that effort over the past 10 years. But the biggest opportunity for Yale in the next 10 years is to further its leadership role in climate action by developing concrete solutions that can extend beyond our campus to other universities and institutions around the world.”

In 2014, Salovey announced six sustainability initiatives, including a $21 million investment in on-campus energy efficiency, a 1.34 megawatt rooftop solar photovoltaic array on West Campus, and the formation of the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force. (See related story.)