Jiashu Max Yang ’23

United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), Switzerland

The United Nations maintains world peace and security as an intergovernmental organization. My specific opportunity resides in the UNEP FI initiative—the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative. Climate change does impact every corner in the world but in different magnitudes and natures. Accounting for future growth, most developed countries will benefit from climate change by 2100, while the global south suffers. The UNEP FI works intensely with financial institutions in both developed and developing nations. In particular, the initiative works with more than 400 banks, insurers and investors from more than 100 supporting institutions. Climate change is an eminent issue. The UNEP FI attempts to tackle it in the sector that is the most necessary: the private sector. UNEP FI aims to establish norms of sustainable finance, providing the basis for standard-setting, helping to ensure private finance fulfills its role in contributing to the long-term development goals, as well as ensuring the fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

My research skills were enhanced during this internship with UNEP FI. My primary task was to develop Net Zero papers based on IPCC’s AR6 and SR15 to educate and inform financial institutions regarding climate change. I used Excel in modeling and calculating the future trajectories of 80 variables from 2020 to 2050 based on more than 140 climate models. I also spearheaded sectoral risk research regarding agriculture and power generation’s physical and transition climate risks as well as future opportunities. Research is based on updated governmental and academic papers on climate change and net zero targets. Despite being exposed to research on climate for the first time, I quickly grasped foreign vocabulary and concepts. I developed authentic views on sectorial risks given different net zero scenarios empirically through my self-guided research.

My experience at the UNEP FI, with the exposure to the financial side to fighting against climate change, has encouraged me to study the fields of economic development as well as sustainability. In addition, in modeling and visualizing changes in huge quantities of data, I am inspired to take more courses in computer science. I am also inspired to apply to jobs related to climate change. From my first academic exposure to climate change—namely a tutorial on carbon offsets with Professor Bradburd—I have since learned so much more about the importance and the urgency in working against climate change. My work this summer has further solidified that thought, and I have already started applying for many jobs in the environmental/energy sector that addresses climate change.

I am beyond grateful to the Class of 1994 for their generosity, as well as the ’68 Center for providing me with the exposure to great opportunities. Working with the UNEP FI is a great privilege that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to pursue.