Yale University to begin “carbon charges”

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Yale University has established a distinctive, new strategy in order to combat carbon dioxide emissions: taxing the CO2 emissions of buildings on campus.

The Ivy League institution’s plan will divide the entire university into 48 administrative units, all accountable for the carbon emissions of their respective buildings on campus. Each unit will provide a monthly report on energy efficiency, the first of which will be announced later this month. According to Yale, the reports will act as examinations on the buildings energy consumption as well as the consequent greenhouse gas emissions.

The school’s carbon charge is stated to be revenue neutral, meaning that Yale will not benefit from any of the revenue from the fee.

In 2018, each of the administrative units involved will have two budget lines, “A charge line for the unit’s carbon charges, and a return line to allow a percentage of the university-wide carbon charge total to be returned to that unit.”

The emissions will purportedly be measured in Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MTCDE). Yale states that the charge will be $40 per MTCDE. Staff and faculty members from the University were the ones who decided that price $40 per metric ton of CO2 was the most appropriate price level.

The university is stated to be in association with the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a coalition of multiple private, government, and civil entities advocating for carbon based pricing systems and guidelines.

The carbon charge project was set forth originally by the Presidential Carbon Charge Task Force. Created in 2014, the task force was developed in order to examine the frugality associated with pricing carbon on campus.

“Carbon pricing achieves emissions savings by making the carbon content of every decision that you make salient or clear to the person making the decision,” Yale economics professor Kenneth Gillingham stated.

Yale has over 250 buildings on its New Haven campus. Apparently administrators from the university have already started from switch to incandescent to LED lights bulbs in order to decrease the cost of carbon emissions.

According to the Yale Daily News article, they aim to have a “zero-net release of carbon to the atmosphere” by the year 2050. The Ivy League university also hopes to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 43 percent under its levels of 2005, which they hope to accomplish by the year 2020.

“Quantitative limits are so ‘twentieth century’ because they do not ask what the costs and benefits are,” Yale economics professor Nordhaus Nordhaus expressed. “Using prices rather than quantities is recognized as the most efficient and effective approach.”

Yale’s carbon tax initiative has evidently inspired members of numerous others schools to engage in similar projects, including Cornell, Dartmouth, and Stanford. Similar to Yale, Swarthmore College, a liberal-arts college in Pennsylvania, has even implemented a 1.25 percent carbon charge on its operating budgets.


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