Campus Energy and Sustainability Podcast: Putting a Price on Carbon
In 2016, Swarthmore became one of the first institutions of higher learning, along with Yale University and Vassar College, to implement internal carbon pricing. Policies vary between institutions, but at Swarthmore, the charge comes in the form of a 1.25 percent levy on all department budgets, which is used to fund emissions reductions, education, and engagement projects. The College also uses a shadow price that takes into account the long-term social cost of using carbon when it prices out various construction and renovation projects.
Climate Action Senior Fellow Nathan Graf '16 supports the work of the Carbon Charge Committee, which is responsible for making decisions regarding the program and, with approval from the Ecosphere Executive Committee, allocates the funding generated by the levy on departments. Graf, who recently appeared on the Campus Energy and Sustainability Podcast to discuss the charge, says that the policy has already had an impact on the community's awareness of reducing carbon consumption.
"We've gotten a whole lot of questions from people who are now asking us how to reduce emissions, even though there's not an immediate financial incentive for it," says Graf, referring to the flat levy that comprises the carbon charge. "We found that just seeing that number on the budget has brought a lot of folks to the table who wouldn't otherwise be the usual suspects."
Nathan Graf '16 on the Campus Energy and Sustainability Podcast: