School of forestry and environmental studies

School Notes: School of the Environment
September/October 2023

Ingrid C. “Indy” Burke |

Scaling up green chemistry globally

The Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale is leading a new United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) initiative aimed at reducing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)—also known as “forever chemicals”—in emerging nations.

Six countries are participating in the program, which was established through a $12.6 million grant from the Global Environment Facility. The countries include Uganda, Jordan, Peru, Serbia, Ukraine, and Indonesia. 

The YSE-UNIDO initiative will set up accelerator programs and pilot projects in these countries that will address worldwide goals for reducing and eliminating POPs, mercury, and microplastics, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in manufacturing and production processes. It will also develop a single global network that will connect stakeholders seeking to implement green chemistry and green engineering alternatives. 

Rising popularity of EVs

New research by YSE professor of environmental and energy economics Kenneth Gillingham found that the recent increase in electric vehicle adoption is due largely to technological improvements such as increased battery range and faster charging.

Gillingham and his coauthors surveyed about 1,600 people who had intentions of purchasing a car or SUV within the next two years or who had purchased one within the prior year. Respondents were shown 15 sets of three vehicles with various attributes—some gasoline-powered, some electric, some hybrid—and asked which one they would choose. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that advances in distance capacity and falling prices have made EVs an enticing option, and it is possible that EVs could dominate the market by 2030.

“Vehicle manufacturers who are leaders in the EV space will take comfort in what we’ve found,” Gillingham says. “Manufacturers who are laggards might want to think carefully about what their plans are.” 

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