Yale SOM Students Travel "Carbon Neutral"
New Haven, Conn. March 2, 2007 — In January, first-year MBA students at the Yale School of Management traveled to eight destinations around the world as part of the school’s first International Experience, a required study abroad component of the new curriculum that was launched last fall. In keeping with Yale's intention to become the “greenest” university, a group of students organized a voluntary program to allow students and faculty trip leaders to purchase carbon emissions offsets to reduce the global warming impact of their air travel.
The student organizers calculated that SOM’s International Experience resulted in more than three million miles traveled, and the release of more than two million pounds of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of 98 large SUVs on the road for a year. Through the collective carbon offset purchases made by first-year students, faculty, staff, TAs, and two anonymous donors, the International Experience air travel became carbon neutral.
The offsets, purchased from five providers, will finance more than $7,000 in investments in renewable energy production, energy conservation initiatives, tree-planting, large-scale reforestation, and other greenhouse gas reduction strategies in India, Africa, Costa Rica, and the United States. These investments will counterbalance the travel-related emissions by preventing the release of more than two million pounds of gases that would have otherwise contributed to climate change.
The carbon offsets initiative was proposed and led by Austin Whitman ’07, Bailey McCallum ’07, Matthew Sly ’07, Amy Emerick ’08, and Koichi Kurisu ’08.
Whitman, who along with McCallum is enrolled in the joint degree program between the School of Management and the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, said the effort received an enthusiastic response from classmates and helped to educate the SOM community about climate change.
“In the course of study at SOM we learn how to find and analyze new information and use it to make smart decisions. In addition to offsetting our emissions, one of our goals in this project was to give the SOM community new information about climate change and carbon markets. We wanted to encourage people to consider the longer-term business implications, the risks, and the opportunities. I think we succeeded in doing that,” Whitman said.
The organizers also arranged for SOM to be carbon neutral on February 22 to coincide with a lecture given at the school by Richard Sandor, Chairman and CEO of the Chicago Climate Exchange, a self-regulatory exchange that administers a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction and trading program for North America. Through a gift from SterlingPlanet, a retailer of carbon offsets, the 4.5 tons of greenhouse gases that SOM generated through electricity and heating that day were abated.