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Statement on University Investment and Sustainability Policy

The undersigned faculty and researchers of Columbia University's Earth Institute recommend
that Columbia University implement a policy that recognizes the critical need for society to
transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources, the role of the University in promoting public good
through its investments, and the importance of upholding these principles through activities on
its campuses. Columbia University should proactively lead these efforts both within and
without the University and recognize that such investment choices need not adversely affect
University finances, but they do provide an opportunity to strengthen the University
financially, civically and morally. We are aware of no evidence of a clear correlation between
fossil fuel divestment and portfolio return.
1. Coal combustion is the largest and fastest-growing anthropogenic source of
greenhouse gas emissions. Major reductions in global coal use are an essential part
of any strategy to fight climate change. Coal companies are bad investments for the
planet and for forward-looking investment portfolios. If these companies are losing
money (as many of them are), Columbia University should not suffer the losses; if
they are making money, Columbia should not share in the profits. Columbia should
engage in orderly divestment from the stock of any companies that are primarily in
the coal mining business, and should refrain from buying any such stock in the
2. Companies that are primarily involved with other fossil fuels need to transition to
clean sources of energy in the decades to come. In order to stay in or join Columbia
Universitys stock portfolio, oil and natural gas companies should provide satisfactory
affirmative answers to these questions, and should provide documentation
supporting the answers:
a. Has the company publicly and clearly subscribed to the goal agreed to by
196 countries in Paris in December 2015 to hold the increase in the global
average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to
pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above preindustrial levels, and to the limits on GHG emissions needed to meet that
b. Has the company left, or never joined, business groups that lobby or litigate
against effective climate policies to achieve the temperature goal, and does
it refrain from such activities itself?
c. Has the company ended, or never engaged in, any exploration and
development of unconventional reserves (for example, in the Arctic and
much of the Canadian oil sands)?


d. Has the company demonstrated that it remains a good investment despite

societys transition away from fossil fuels, and has it published and is it
implementing a plan to transition to low-carbon energy sources and
technologies, as called for by the Paris Agreement?
3. Columbia University should hold no shares in any company, in whatever sector,
that directly or through organizations that it supports rejects the scientific
consensus on climate change.
4. The University should be an active investor in companies whose shares it continues
to hold. The University should initiate or participate in shareholder resolutions and
other activities that urge companies to behave in a responsible manner toward
climate change, including, inter alia, the reduction in the emission of greenhouse
gases and the transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources. In doing so, the
University should cooperate with other organizations engaged in similar activities.
5. At the same time that Columbia University faculty, researchers and students are
urging others to reduce their GHG footprints, the University should reduce its own
footprint and prepare for the climate change that is coming. The University should
carry out the accompanying Columbia University Sustainability Principles that have
been jointly prepared by the Earth Institute faculty and the Universitys facilities staff
(subject to any revisions that result from planned community forums on the
Principles). The University should also devote sufficient financial and managerial
resources to implement these Principles. Though some short term capital
expenditures will be needed, implementation is expected to yield net savings due to
reduced energy bills, and may also lead to technological innovations that can be
more broadly applied. The University should task its sustainability governance team
with producing a report within the next twelve months that identifies how
significant expenditures of short term funds may reduce its GHG footprint in the
immediate near term.
6. Through its research, educational and public service activities, Columbia University
should be a leader in developing and disseminating humanitys understanding of
the nature, causes and effects of climate change, and solutions to address this
global problem.
Note: The full-time faculty members (Officers of Instruction) and researchers (Professional,
Staff, and Postdoctoral Officers of Research), listed below are signing in their individual
capacities. Affiliations are given for purposes of identification only.


Michela Biasutti
Lamont Associate Research Professor
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Mark A. Cane
Earth Institute faculty member
G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences
Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Robert S. Chen
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Columbia University Manager, NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center
Peter Coleman
Earth Institute faculty member
Professor of Psychology and Education, Dept. of Social-Organizational Psychology, Teachers
Director, International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution
Chair, Advanced Consortium for Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity
Richard Deckelbaum
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, Institute of Human Nutrition
Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology
Robert R Williams Professor of Nutrition, Columbia University Medical Center
Ruth DeFries
Earth Institute faculty member
Denning Family Chair of Sustainable Development, The Earth Institute
Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Co-Director, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development
Peter deMenocal
Associate Chair, Earth Institute faculty
Director, Center for Climate and Life
Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Michael B. Gerrard
Chair, Earth Institute faculty
Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice
Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law


School of Law
Lisa Goddard
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, International Research Institute for Climate & Society
Joseph Graziano
Earth Institute faculty member
Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Professor, Department of Pharmacology, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Radley Horton
Associate Research Scientist
Center for Climate Systems Research
Peter Kelemen
Earth Institute faculty member
Arthur D. Stroke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Deputy Director for Education, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Chair, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Patrick Kinney
Earth Institute faculty member
Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Director, Columbia Climate and Health Program
Yochanan Kushnir
Earth Institute faculty member
Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Edward Lloyd
Earth Institute faculty member
Evan M. Frankel Clinical Professor of Environmental Law
Malgosia Madajewicz
Associate Research Scientist
Center for Climate Systems Research
Shahid Naeem
Earth Institute faculty member
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
Director, Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability


Benjamin Orlove
Earth Institute faculty member
Senior Research Scientist, International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Professor of International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor, Department of Anthropology
Angela L. Slagle
Science Program Officer, U.S. Science Support Program, IODP
Associate Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Stephanie Pfirman,
Earth Institute faculty member
Alena Wels Hirschorn 58 and Martin Hirschorn Professor of Environmental and Applied Sciences
Co-Chair of the Department of Environmental Science, Barnard College
Robert Pollack
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, Study for the Study of Science and Religion
Maureen E. Raymo
Bruce C. Heezen Lamont Research Professor
Director, Lamont-Doherty Core Repository
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
Irwin Redlener
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness
Clinical Professor of Health Policy and Management and Pediatrics
Jeffrey Sachs
Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Earth Institute faculty member
Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development
Professor of Health Policy and Management
School of International and Public Affairs
Pedro Sanchez
Earth Institute faculty member
Director, Agriculture and Food Security Center
Elliot Sclar
Earth Institute faculty member
Professor of Urban Planning, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Professor of International Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs


Director, Center for Sustainable Urban Development

Richard Seager
Earth Institute faculty member
Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Jason Smerdon
Earth Institute faculty member
Lamont Associate Research Professor, Ocean and Climate Physics Division, Lamont-Doherty Earth
Co-Director, Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development
Kathryn Nadine Vasilaky
Earth Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellow
International Research Institute for Climate & Society
Elke Weber
Earth Institute faculty member
Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business, Columbia Business School
Professor, Department of Psychology
Co-Director, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions


Columbia University Sustainability Principles

The university is committed to following a set of sustainability principles in all facets of planning
and operations so that Columbia can improve environmental performance, ensure a healthy
community and contribute to local, regional and global solutions.
These principles apply university-wide not only to the Morningside Heights campus but also to
the Medical campus, Lamont, Nevis, Manhattanville, Baker Field, the many residential properties
owned by the university, and to other facilities such as the Columbia Global Centers. It is
recognized that implementation may not occur at all places all at once, and that some of the
principles will require more advance work than others; implementation will be phased in on as
expedited a basis as practicable.
Each campus should adopt ways to adhere to these principles through targeted policies,
commitments, and standard practices as well as individual everyday actions. These will be
essential to realize our vision of incorporating sustainability into every aspect of campus life.
Advance Columbias core educational, research and outreach missions to demonstrate its
leadership around the world.
Enhance education, research and public outreach activity to promote sustainability and
disseminate knowledge about how earth systems operate, how humans affect them, and
how negative impacts can be reduced and reversed; prepare current and future
generations to utilize and advance this knowledge.

Enhance the sustainability of the physical operations of the university to improve its own
environmental performance, and also to develop, test, measure and improve methods
that can be broadly applicable around the world.

Plan, develop, implement and measure strategic sustainability initiatives.

Columbia commits to adopt institutional practices that promote sustainability. All of these
practices should apply to Columbia's own operations, and should be used as primary criteria for
selecting suppliers of energy, food, materials, products and services.

Develop baseline measures of use and efficiency for energy, water and other resources,
and adopt periodic monitoring and reporting of these and other measures of Columbias
environmental performance.

Using a consensus-building and participatory process, adopt and periodically update

campus-specific measurable goals. Where applicable, goals should be science-based, and
take into consideration the appropriate city, state, federal or international goals and
standards, in the following areas.
o Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations and electricity and fuel
o Conserve resources and minimize waste through efficiency, conservation, reuse,
recycling, source reduction and composting


o Maximize the use of renewable resources (including energy)

o Use water resources efficiently, and minimize total water demand.
o Construct, maintain and renovate buildings to provide safe, healthy, and
productive indoor environments that use energy, water and other natural
resources efficiently.
o Seek mode shift in order to reduce the number of drive-alone commuters by
expanding the number of alternative mobility options such as bicycling, shared
vehicles, shuttles, and mass transit
o Seek ways to reduce the need for travel through various means of electronic

Take into consideration projections and other information about future climate
conditions and adaptation in its capital and operational planning, and make appropriate

Organize an inclusive sustainability governance model that centralizes sustainability

reporting and decision-making around these topics.

Develop publicly available sustainability indicators and planning tools to enable

monitoring, reporting, and continuous improvement; to enable comparative analysis of
environmental performance; and to facilitate and support engagement of the university

In order to ensure implementation of these principles, devote sufficient organizational

and financial resources, put in place mechanisms of responsibility and accountability, and
integrate the goals into management decision-making. Consider the potential for
operational cost savings (such as through lower energy bills) in making decisions on
capital projects.

Foster a culture of sustainability.

Columbia commits to fostering a culture of sustainability. Targeted policies and practices as
well as individual, everyday actions are essential to realizing our vision of incorporating
sustainability into every aspect of campus life. The university should foster thinking and decisionmaking that persist even after students graduate and other members of the community move on.
The university encourages all members of its community to:
Increase each others level of awareness around sustainability, encouraging each other to
personally take action to support the Universitys sustainability efforts and obligations.

Lead by example by exhibiting day-to-day behavior that minimizes environmental impacts

on the campus grounds, our local workspaces, our living quarters, and recreation spaces.

Empower students, staff and faculty to be agents of behavior change who mobilize their
knowledge in concrete ways on campus to build a sustainable campus community.


Collaborate to set goals around sustainability and provide transparency about where we
are with our work on campus and beyond. Seek ways to participate in events and teams
that bring the campus community together around sustainability, including but not
limited to school-based Green Teams, student energy challenges, donation fairs, and
recognition events that celebrate success.

Each individual Columbia community campus should work closely with its surrounding community
through collaboration with the following stakeholders to develop ways to enhance the
sustainability of New York City, or the appropriate region, so they may serve as models for and
learn from other major urbanized areas of the world:
colleagues and students in other schools

departments and disciplines

government officials

other institutions of higher learning

private sector, including utility companies

general public

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