AllianceBernstein backs first climate university

Bringing investors and scientists together to research new solutions for climate change

AllianceBernstein (AB) has committed to backing what is thought to be the first purpose-bult school in the world to focus exclusively on tackling climate change.

The global investment management firm, with $697bn in assets under management, has become a founding member of the corporate affiliate programme associated with the new Columbia Climate School.

As a university, it will focus on mitigating climate change and its related challenges “to connect, amplify, and advance new areas of inquiry” and search for fresh solutions.

AB has committed to an exclusive three-year partnership. By working with Columbia, the firm said it can bring together investors and scientists to help shape the next generation of professionals who will be working on managing climate risk and solutions across an array of industries, sectors and countries.

“The urgency of climate change means that investors need to go beyond the traditional approach to risk, research, analysis and engagement to develop knowledge and human capital within the investment industry that is acutely focused on this issue for decades to come,” said Seth Bernstein (pictured), president and CEO of AllianceBernstein.

Both parties will embark on research focused on the intersection of climate science and academic study with investment decisions. There will be ongoing conversations between AB’s investors and Columbia’s scientists on core climate issues as they arise in the investing process across portfolios, and also research into approaches to net zero.

Alex Halliday, founding dean of the Columbia Climate School and director of the Earth Institute, commented: “I strongly believe that if you want to effect real change in the world you need to think about how you can engage the business community. This partnership represents an unprecedented opportunity to do just that—to build the business community into the new school’s dynamic, solutions-driven transdisciplinary model.

“AB’s role will be integral for providing our scientists with a view of the potential impacts of their work and research in practice across sectors, industries, and countries. This collaboration between science and finance is critical to developing and identifying solutions to the climate crisis.”

AB and Columbia have worked together since 2019 co-developing a curriculum focused on integrating climate science into portfolio management and construction. AB said this collaboration has given its investors greater insight into the science behind a changing climate and its implications on the issuer, portfolio and macroeconomic contexts, while Columbia scientists have benefitted from a better understanding of the investing process, which in turn has allowed them to create useful information and resources for companies, communities and governments.

They also together recently rolled out a Climate Change and Investment Academy, with more than 1,000 asset owners and consultants trained and certified on a series of key climate finance issues and research.

Bernstein added: “We are proud to be continuing our ground-breaking work with Columbia University, and to be helping to shape how our industry fights climate, both today and in the future.”


Natalie Kenway

Natalie is editor in chief at MA Financial covering ESG Clarity, Portfolio Adviser and International Adviser. She was previously global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist...