Improving Innovation: Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Emerging Technology

New technologies carry both the promise of improvement of human welfare and the threat of undesired environmental consequences. Applying life cycle assessment (LCA) early in the development of technologies – when still at lab or pilot scale – provides valuable insights about how to prioritize research activities and to potentially avoid damage to the environment. LCA quantifies environmental and resources impacts of products and technologies from raw material extraction and processing, through a product’s manufacture, distribution and use, to recycling or final disposal. LCA of emerging technologies can help research and development (R&D) groups, planners, and policymakers look ahead and identify environmental and resource implications, potential liabilities, and other unanticipated consequences of products and technologies early in innovation.

Existing LCA methods, standards, and guidelines, however, focus on…

WELCOMING THE NEWEST F&ES ADMISSIONS AMBASSADOR, DAVID J. SOLOMON

Howdy everyone,

My name is David J. Solomon, a second-year Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate specializing in Business and the Environment at F&ES and a new Admissions Ambassador for the F&ES Admissions Office. My interests exist at the intersection of entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability, with a longstanding and deep passion for China and the role Chinese investments can improve environmentally development strategies for projects in China, as well as overseas through the country’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

When China met East Africa at F&ES:  Learning a Global Perspective on Research

During the Alumni TGIF (“Thank Goodness I’m a Forester” event at F&ES) last October, I shared with Gao, a Ph.D. candidate from China, my interest in learning about the environmental footprint of Chinese investments overseas. Despite my passion, I had little experience in the topic at the time and had no idea where to start looking for resources. Gao immediately introduced me to Dr. Helen Gichohi, the McCluskey Fellow at F&ES, at the Alumni Event. Helen is a renowned scholar from Kenya and wildlife conservation field practitioner – also former President of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). I expressed my interest to Helen and made quick connections with her along with two other classmates, American and Ugandan students who shared a similar passion for the subject. As our interest overlapped with…

Building a Greener Belt & Road

This piece is part of a series of posts looking to highlight the Global, Interdisciplinary and Entrepreneurial character of F&ES. It’s hard to keep track of all the initiatives students are involved in, and we hope to provide a spotlight for them. For prospective students who wish to know more, and current students who wish to have their work featured in this series, please email fesinfo@yale.edu.

When it comes to the potential ramifications of international development and trade, F&ES students Tina Huang M.E.M. ’19 (China), Kate Logan M.E.M. ’20 (United States) and Nicholas Lo M.E.Sc ’19 (Hong Kong) share the goal of creating awareness among their peers, by making sure they spread dialogue in the U.S. about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a Chinese…

A New Global Database for Quantifying the Impact of Consumption and Trade

How is it possible to measure a nation’s environmental impact when half its goods are imported from China and other regions?

Over the past decade, a consortium of European researchers has developed a database that offers new clarity on the increasingly complex links between international trade, consumption, and environmental impact. Known as EXIOBASE 3, the database enables new insights to be drawn about the environmental impact that trade has had, who benefits, and who is harmed by increasing globalization.

In a new special issue, The Global Multi Regional Input Output Database “EXIOBASE,” Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology (JIE) examines how this database was designed and built. The issue shows how it will improve understanding of the effects…

F&ES in Patagonia and Santiago, Chile

Over the winter break, Jessica Leung (MEM ’17) and Ross Donihue (MEM ’18) travelled to Chile for 2 weeks as part of the Environmental Protection Clinic, a course cross-listed at F&ES and the Law School. The course is an interdisciplinary clinic that addresses environmental law and policy problems on behalf of client organizations such as environmental groups, government agencies, and international bodies.

Their client was Futaleufú Riverkeeper, a non-governmental organization in Chile dedicated to protecting the natural and cultural heritage of the Futaleufú watershed, located in northern Patagonia. More about them here.

The team spent the fall semester working with the organization’s International Director, Patrick Lynch, to do a research project on hydroelectric power and clean energy policy in Chile. Chile currently relies on hydropower for…

The Carbon Footprint of Capital

We think of capital, the assets we use in production, as heavy: machines, buildings, infrastructure, trucks and railroads. Being composed mostly of cement and steel, we would expect their production to cause a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. In a new paper, published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, we offer a first detailed analysis of the carbon footprint of gross fixed capital formation across countries and sectors. The picture that emerges is interesting because of some small surprises.

First of all, capital is big. Capital formation constitutes about one-quarter of gross global product in monetary terms. It causes about 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Leaving it out is a pretty big oversight.

Second, capital formation varies across countries. The country with the highest capital…

Environmental Impacts of Demand-Side Technologies and Strategies for Carbon Mitigation

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are widely recognized as two of the most effective ways to greatly reduce the threat of climate change. But how much do we know about other environmental impacts of a large-scale deployment of these technologies? What are the benefits (or impacts) from a life-cycle perspective? By how much can the gains from energy efficient technologies be multiplied if greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity production are also reduced?

CFL w vineIn a special issue, Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology aims to advance our understanding of environmental and natural resource implications of energy efficiency technologies. This special issue, “Environmental Impacts of Demand-Side Technologies and Strategies for Carbon Mitigation,” was prepared…

National Geographic: F&ES Grad Discusses China's Role in the Ivory Trade

Before graduating from F&ES last month, Gao Yufang M.E.Sc. ’14 focused his studies on the global ivory trade, with an emphasis on the complex role of his native China.

Gao — who will return to China this month, along with two African conservationists, to explore the country’s ivory markets — recently spoke with National Geographic about the complexities of the ivory market and the role of young people in curbing the slaughter of Africa’s elephants.

He also talks about why he decided to focus on this issue in the first place.

When I came to Yale in September 2012, everyone was talking about ivory trade. As a Chinese in the U.S. who understood how the conservation community in China works, I was seeing a great gap…