Given the serious threat posed to the planet by climate change and the importance of being transparent about how its financial resources are used, Columbia University adjusted its investment policy to include an important update regarding investing in oil and gas companies.
A revised set of principles for the Columbia University Investment Management Company is the latest product of an ongoing multi-year process of review and dialogue between many parts of the institution. The university does not hold direct investments in publicly traded oil and gas companies and is formalizing this non-investment policy for the foreseeable future. Given that certain oil and gas companies plan to move their businesses to net zero emissions by 2050, the university can make an exception to its non-investment policy if a credible plan is in place for a company. Coupled with the 2017 decision to phase out steam coal, the university's current investment approach is in line with its considerable academic and academic commitment to this important cause, including the founding of the Columbia Climate School in 2020.
Learn moreFossil Fuel Investment Policy
There is an undeniable obligation for Columbia and other universities to address the climate crisis in all dimensions of our institutions, said Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University. Efforts to achieve net zero emissions must be sustained over time, employing all the tools at our disposal and including all who are at Columbia today and who will follow us in the years to come. This announcement confirms this commitment and reflects the urgent need for action.
In addition to formalizing Columbia's practices of limiting investments in publicly traded oil and gas companies, the rulings announced today also promise that the university will not make new investments in private funds, which invest primarily in oil and gas companies.
In accordance with the updated guidance, Columbia Investment Management Company (IMC) will expand its assessment of its investment managers to include all sectors to assess whether they have plans to create net zero emissions portfolios by 2050. Columbia ultimately sees opportunities to leverage the capabilities of its IMC, Climate School, and other university resources to help managers advance these plans. In addition, IMC will increase its focus on investing in the development of technologies that contribute to net zero emissions and greenhouse gas reductions while continuing to meet IMC's risk and return targets.
President Bollinger and the Board of Trustees are deeply grateful for the hard work the Advisory Board for Socially Responsible Investing, a committee of faculty, students, and alumni, in developing a thoughtful and nuanced recommendation for the Board of Directors that shaped the measures adopted today. In its recommendation to the President and the Board of Directors, ACSRI stressed that the oil and gas sector is not the only contributor to climate change. The university agrees that the university's non-investment policy should be evaluated on a regular basis and possibly extended in the future to sectors that require further review due to their high greenhouse gas emissions.
ACSRI's approach, combined with the science and practical solutions that continue to be produced at the university, are a reminder that there are opportunities for advances in addressing climate change if we address them. We thank our faculties, students, alumni and staff for their passion and commitment and for supporting the institutional response to climate change that underpins our actions today.
Colombia has been at the forefront of recognizing the negative effects of climate change and using our resources to mitigate it, including through practical engineering and technology that can be applied by those who wish to reduce emissions. We recognize both costs and opportunities in the work ahead and will try to make the results of our research and ideas widely available to all who work for the urgent and essential cause of saving our planet.Keywords climate energy Lee C. Bollinger