The Stanford Climate of Infrastructure Project

The carbon intensity of the infrastructure being financed and built in emerging economies will, more than any other set of investment and policy decisions, shape the trajectory of climate change. Infrastructure such as power plants, electricity-transmission lines, and roads have decades-long emissions tails. Increasingly, the world’s biggest financing institutions and governments are identifying decarbonizing their investments in such infrastructure as a top priority. But holding those players to their decarbonization promises, and helping them achieve them, will require better information and analysis than is now available: about which players are funding what infrastructure where, about why they’re making those investment decisions, and about how, by shifting to financing lower-carbon infrastructure, they could create infrastructure-project deals that would increase rather than reduce their profits.

The Stanford Climate of Infrastructure Project, housed at Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, aims to fill this gap. By analyzing new data sources, it is tracking and mapping global infrastructure investment across several key emerging economies.

Two early and related insights from the new data and analysis are particularly relevant for decision-making on climate policy: the growing agency that countries receiving foreign funding wield in shaping the carbon intensity of the infrastructure that is built within their borders, and the range of powerful players in those countries whose fortunes will rise or fall depending on those decisions.

The project is the focus of ongoing Stanford Law School policy labs involving students from around the university.

Jeffrey Ball, scholar-in-residence at the Steyer-Taylor Center and lecturer at Stanford Law School, leads the project. For more information about it, contact him at