Project Overview

Berkeley College Tower

The Yale Carbon Charge is testing the effectiveness and feasibility of carbon pricing on Yale’s campus.  The charge went into effect on July 1, 2017 and the first energy reports went to administrators and building facilities staff in autumn 2017.

Using the university as a site for applied research, the project aims to inform energy policy, climate change mitigation, and environmental economics by implementing a revenue-neutral internal carbon charge while researching and sharing its challenges and benefits.


  1. Contribute to the global understanding of effective carbon pricing approaches.
  2. Incorporate the societal costs of climate change into university investment decisions to reduce campus energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Prepare the university for a regional or national price on carbon.

Global Context

Carbon pricing is a growing trend in the corporate world. 607 companies reported using an internal price on carbon in 2017 — up over 400% from 150 in 2014 — and the number is expected to rise, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an internationally recognized non-profit with the largest database of corporate emissions. To the best of our knowledge, Yale is the first institution of higher education to implement a comprehensive internal carbon-pricing program.


In 2014, Yale convened an Earth Day summit with Sterling Professor of Economics William Nordhaus and Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy Dan Esty as well as students and staff members from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Office of Sustainability to discuss solutions to climate change. The “teach-out” concluded with thoughts on how Yale might use its campus as a test bed for carbon pricing.

Later that year, a group of students representing Yale College and several graduate and professional schools submitted a letter to the administration which led Yale President Peter Salovey to form a university task force. This task force, chaired by Professor Nordhaus, examined “whether it would be feasible and effective for Yale to institute an internal carbon-pricing mechanism as part of its sustainability efforts.”

After meeting for over six months and consulting with experts from academia and industry, as well as the Yale community, the task force recommended that Yale pilot an internal carbon charge in the 2015-2016 academic year. The pilot was a success, and led to the implementation of the current carbon charge program.

Read more about the history of the Yale Carbon Charge.

Organizational Structure

The Yale Carbon Charge Project is a diverse team of students, faculty members, administrators, and staff, with expertise in disciplines ranging from environmental economics to facilities management. To learn about the network of professionals involved with the project, visit the following links for more information and bios:

Blog and White Papers

Interested in following our progress? Check out our blog and white papers, which discuss the various aspects of developing, implementing, and evaluating Yale’s internal carbon charge program.


For more information about the Yale Carbon Charge Project, please contact us.