Yale affirms commitment to progress on climate change
President Peter Salovey announced on June 5 that Yale has joined with 11 other major research universities in affirming their commitment to the concerted action, consistent with the Paris Agreement, needed to address the grave challenge of climate change.
“Yale remains steadfast in its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change—among the gravest challenges our world faces in the 21st century,” Salovey stated in a message. “Yale is dedicated to pursuing these goals through outstanding research, scholarship, and teaching. Furthermore, we will continue our efforts to build a sustainable, environmentally responsible campus that is a model for other communities.”
Salovey noted that Yale adopted an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plan in 2005 and will soon be implementing a carbon charge program, among other significant sustainability efforts.
Below are Salovey’s message and the text of the joint letter that Yale signed.
Message from President Salovey to the Yale community
Yale remains steadfast in its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change — among the gravest challenges our world faces in the 21st century. Yale is dedicated to pursuing these goals through outstanding research, scholarship, and teaching. Furthermore, we will continue our efforts to build a sustainable, environmentally responsible campus that is a model for other communities.
Yale has joined Johns Hopkins University and several of our peer schools in signing the Affirmation of University Commitment to Global Progress on Climate Change. This statement reiterates Yale’s longstanding pledge to address the threats posed by climate change. I encourage every member of the Yale community to read the statement, posted below.
Yale’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a more sustainable campus predates the Paris Agreement. Since 2005, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 24%. In 2015, in response to a White House call to action, Yale signed the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, agreeing to accelerate our transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across the university. As part of these efforts, Yale’s campus will be carbon-neutral by 2050.
Scholarship and teaching are the bedrock of Yale’s environmental efforts. Students and faculty in our School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and in many other schools and programs are helping us better understand and respond to complex environmental problems. The scientific and evidence-based research taking place at Yale will enable us to address climate change and its related effects on both a local and global scale.
Yale’s Sustainability Plan 2025 details our institutional commitment, and recent milestones reflect progress in many areas. Yale was the first university to pilot a carbon charge program and the first academic member of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition. These initiatives are part of our commitment to serving as a “living laboratory” for carbon pricing — a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Next month, we will implement a carbon charge. A 350,000-square-foot photovoltaic solar array on West Campus is the largest rooftop solar installation in Connecticut. And we are developing a transportation plan that encourages biking, walking, and public transit on and between our campuses. Our goal is to develop practices that can be shared with other institutions, businesses, and communities.
Yale, along with colleges and universities around the world, must collaborate with government, business, and non-profit partners to understand and address the challenge of climate change. Dedicated to “improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice,” Yale will continue to support its students, faculty, and staff in this vital work.
Affirmation of leading research universities’ commitment to progress on climate change
The following statement was released today by the presidents of 12 major U.S. research universities, commonly referred to as the “Ivy-Plus” group.
In 2015, we were proud to be among 318 institutions of higher education in signing the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, affirming our commitment to accelerate the global transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices on our campuses.
Today we reaffirm that commitment, which is consistent with the Paris Agreement and recognizes the concerted action that is needed at every level to slow, and ultimately prevent, the rise in the global average temperature and to facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy. Universities have a critical role to play in reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions, continuing to advance evidence-based understanding of the causes and effects of climate change on the environment, the economy and public health, and developing solutions.
The scientific consensus is clear that the climate is changing largely due to human activity, that the consequences of climate change are accelerating, and that the imperative of a low carbon future is increasingly urgent. As institutions of higher education, we remain committed to a broad-based global agreement on climate change and will do our part to ensure the United States can meet its contribution.
Christina Paxson, President, Brown University
Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University
Martha E. Pollack, President, Cornell University
Philip J. Hanlon, President, Dartmouth College
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University
L. Rafael Reif, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President, Stanford University
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Salovey, President, Yale University
American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge (2015)
“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. We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus.”