Relevant Investment Policies

The following Policy Statement on Fossil Fuels was approved by the Board of Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York on January 20, 2021.

Columbia University will combine its formidable strengths in scientific research and policy development with the skills of its investment team to play a constructive role in a broader shift in the global economy to net zero emissions by 2050. To advance this essential cause, the University’s investment policy on fossil fuels will include the following elements:

  • The University reaffirms its commitment to divestment/non-investment of direct equity holdings of public companies whose primary business is the production of thermal coal.

  • The University hereby formalizes investment practices related to the oil and gas industry, defined for this purpose as companies whose primary business is the exploration and production of fossil fuels, or integrated oil and gas companies whose business includes the exploration, production and refining and marketing of oil and gas.

  • Currently, Columbia University holds no direct equity investments in publicly-traded oil and gas companies. With this document, the University formalizes its position of non-investment in publicly traded oil and gas companies for the foreseeable future. 
    • The Board recognizes that certain oil and gas companies aim to develop credible plans for transitioning their businesses to net zero emissions by 2050, including establishing clear interim targets. 
    • The President and the Board of Trustees have asked the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing to provide a report annually that draws on the expertise of the Columbia Climate School, other university research and expertise, and relevant outside resources to identify publicly-traded oil and gas companies that are making significant strides toward net zero emissions.
    • Based on this report, the Board may make exceptions to its non-investment policy. The Board may also request a company review, separate from the annual process
    • The University will inform its investment managers of Columbia’s new non-investment policy with regard to publicly-traded oil and gas companies and request that they adhere to it. 

  • Columbia will not make any new investments in private funds that primarily invest in oil and gas companies.
    • This portfolio will be exited as the investments reach maturity, and decisions around this portfolio will continue to be evaluated by the CEO of the IMC for possible earlier exit opportunities.

  • Periodically the University’s non-investment policies may be evaluated, and possibly expanded to sectors that merit further scrutiny due to their heavy greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The IMC will expand its evaluation of its investment managers to assess whether managers have established plans to create portfolios with net zero emissions by 2050. Columbia ultimately sees opportunities to use the capabilities of its IMC, the Climate School and other parts of the institution to assist managers in further developing these plans. 

  • The IMC will intensify its focus on investment managers who invest in technologies that contribute to net zero emission and greenhouse gas reductions and meet the IMC’s risk and return objectives. 

On January 20, 2021 the Board of Trustees of the University voted to lift its policy of divestment/non-investment of companies operating in Sudan. This divestment policy was in place from 2006-2020. The decision to lift the policy of divestment was based on the recommendation of the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, which evaluated recent changes in political and social conditions in Sudan and concluded that “investment is necessary to stabilize the country and reduce human rights violations.”

The following Policy Statement was approved by the Board of Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York on February 24, 2017.
  1. The University will divest from and refrain from future investment in all direct holdings of publicly-traded companies that derive more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production, and
  2. The University will become a signatory to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Climate Change Program.
The following Policy Statement on Private Prisons was approved by the Board of Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York on June 12, 2015.

The University will divest from and refrain from future investment in any direct holdings of publicly-traded stock of companies engaged in the operation of private prisons.