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Hillhouse Professor Dan Esty '86 Organizes Climate Change Conference at Yale

U.S. Governors and top environmental officials met at Yale University on April 18, 2008, to exchange ideas on how states and the federal government can combat global warming and develop a strategy for future action.

Governors attending the event included Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

Also in attendance were Christine Todd Whitman, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, and Nobel Laureate Dr. R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Several of the governors signed a climate change declaration that highlighted the need for “partnership” between the federal and state government.

The gathering also celebrated Yale’s environmental tradition, according to Dan Esty '86, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy and an organizer of the event, who referred to the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt’s landmark 1908 Conference of Governors, which launched the modern conservation movement, planted the seed for the National Parks System, and inspired significant state efforts to protect land. Esty noted that one of Roosevelt’s top advisers, Yale alumnus Gifford Pinchot, was present at the May 1908 meeting. Pinchot, who graduated from Yale College in 1889, played a critical role in the land conservation movement, served as the first head of the National Forest Service and helped found Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). Among the conference participants were Roosevelt’s great-grandson, Theodore Roosevelt IV, and Pinchot’s grandson, Gifford Pinchot III.

The 2008 Conference of Governors was jointly hosted by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, the Yale Project on Climate Change, the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, the Yale Office of Sustainability, and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Yale University has affirmed its commitment to sustainability, especially in reducing the university’s carbon footprint with an initiative to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below the 1990 level by 2020. Yale has already taken steps to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings, use renewable fuels, reduce electricity use, and invest in alternative energy.

Click here for the Yale Bulletin & Calendar story.

Click here for conference videos and transcripts.