Yale News

Until last month, Senior Director of the Yale Investments Office Dean Takahashi ’80 SOM ’83 helped manage one of the largest university endowments in the country.

But Takahashi will now lead a research hub called the Yale Carbon Offset Laboratory and fund and support technologies that can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Housed within the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the laboratory aims to offset over 10 million tons of carbon emissions by 2030 and over one billion tons in the coming decades.

“We need to come up with new approaches to reduce greenhouse gases at low cost and at significant scale,” Takahashi told the News.

Takahashi’s announcement comes amid calls from student activists for the Yale Investments Office to divest from fossil fuel companies. At the climate strike protesting the investment office’s holdings on Wednesday, student activist Manon Lefevre FES ’24 directly alluded to Takahashi’s post transfer and said, “Ya hate to see it.”

In a statement to the News, Takahashi said environmental issues like global warming have concerned him for “quite a while.” These concerns prompted him to look further into the uses for carbon offsets at Yale, Takahashi said.

School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Branford Gentry said Takahashi’s financial expertise will benefit the lab.

“It’s exciting to think about the lab providing a forum for [Yale researchers’] — and others’ — thoughts about what might work,” Gentry said.

It remains unclear where Takahashi’s laboratory will be located. According to the University website, the lab will have around five to eight administrative staff and will sponsor long-term projects that take years to complete.

“It takes years to devise and test technologies, measure their impact, estimate their cost, and develop standards for quantifying their carbon offset value,” Takahashi wrote in a statement to the News. “For that reason, we need to begin developing and proving out negative emission approaches now with the premise or even just the hope that there will be markets for carbon offsets in the future.”

During his tenure at the Investments Office, Takahashi worked closely with Chief Investment Officer David Swensen and helped invent the infamous “Yale Model” for endowment management.

In an interview with the News, Gentry said that Takahashi use his investment expertise to help conduct research that will help the University reach its carbon emission goals.

“I’m excited by the fact that Dean helped build the endowment around successful investment models,” Gentry said. “If we can bring them to bear in getting more investment in lower emission activities, then that could be very exciting.”

Last week, University President Peter Salovey announced that he appointed a task force to determine how quickly the University could reach zero net carbon emissions. Gentry said Takahashi’s role at the Carbon Offset Laboratory could help the University reach that goal and other Yale climate change initiatives.

In 2015, Takahashi earned $3.2 million as a Yale employee.

Matt Kristoffersen | matt.kristoffersen@yale.edu