Yale joins White House Climate Day of Action

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The solar array at Yale's West Campus has 4,400 panels spread over 350,000 square feet. It will generate approximately 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Yale University has accepted a national call to action on climate change, urging a strong global agreement at the upcoming Paris climate summit and pledging to bring Yale’s leadership, teaching, and research expertise to bear on creating a sustainable future.

Yale and more than 200 universities signed a formal pledge during a Nov. 19 White House Climate Day of Action ceremony. Virginia Chapman, director of Yale’s Office of Sustainability, attended the White House ceremony, as did representatives from more than 50 institutions.

The pledge states:

“As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. Although we are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low-carbon future, we recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campuses.”

Yale is committed to developing solutions to climate change challenges through innovation and leadership in its teaching, research, and operations. In 2005, Yale established itself as a global leader for climate change action with its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2020. The new pledge renews the university’s commitment to maintaining a leadership role.

To that end, Yale also announced it will move beyond “best practices” and forge a path toward transformational change with a series of new actions:

  • Launch a campus-wide, internal carbon charge experiment. In September 2014, Yale convened the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force to consider whether it would be feasible and effective to institute a university-wide carbon charge. Based on the task force’s recommendation, and consistent with Yale’s policy of leading by example on sustainability, Yale will soon announce a campus-wide plan for testing internal carbon charge mechanisms.
  • Cultivate a meaningful culture of sustainability by integrating teaching and research with operations. Recent examples of this include the establishment of the Energy Scholars program and the launch of a presidential advisory council to shape and launch a program for applied research and active learning.
  • Act as a convening agent locally and in the world for students, peer institutions, and other sectors in order to promote collaborative solutions. Yale faculty and students will attend the climate change summit in Paris. Yale will lead a summit for students around the world; facilitate a meeting of mayors from around the world; and call together researchers and policymakers for high-level discussion about climate action.
  • Work with the City of New Haven and the State of Connecticut on climate change solutions that enhance local and regional health and prosperity, such as projects focused on enhancing rail transportation in the area and developing adaptation tactics for climate change.
  • Develop a tailored and ambitious plan for energy conservation and renewable energy based on Yale’s long history and success with campus energy conservation and the recent installation of one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in Connecticut.
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Media Contact

Jim Shelton: james.shelton@yale.edu, 203-361-8332