State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


First-of-its-kind Curriculum Will Focus on Climate Risk and Investment Research

Columbia University’s Earth Institute, home to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a world-renowned Earth and climate science research center, is collaborating with leading global investment management firm AllianceBernstein L.P. (AB) to create a first-of-its-kind intensive curriculum focused on climate risk and investment performance.

Scientific experts from Lamont-Doherty and leading finance professionals at AB will co-develop a new curriculum, “Climate Science and Portfolio Risk,” after identifying the need for an educational, research-based program to integrate a deeper analysis of how climate change implications can affect economic and financial outcomes.

The collaboration between Lamont-Doherty and AB will focus on how to integrate a deeper understanding of climate science with companies’ risks and opportunities. The curriculum strongly aligns with the Earth Institute’s mission to mobilize the sciences, education and public policy to achieve a sustainable earth, and AB’s mission to embrace responsible investing and generate excellent outcomes for clients through research.

“The Earth Institute is thrilled to be working with AllianceBernstein to develop a curriculum focused on climate risk,” said Alex Halliday, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “The climate crisis is fast becoming the major issue that society has to address across all sectors. There is an urgent need for businesses to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the huge risks that are to be faced. Assessing and factoring in climate risk in a more comprehensive and granular fashion than can be achieved from relatively blunt and misleading economic models will have far reaching impacts. Therefore, this venture is sorely needed and will deepen the knowledge of members of the financial sector to make informed decisions based on a planet that is changing due to global warming.”

“This opportunity with Lamont-Doherty supports AB’s strategy to incorporate environmental factors into our investment processes,” said Seth Bernstein, president and CEO of AllianceBernstein. “As an active manager focused on building robust, sustainable portfolios for our clients, we are uniquely positioned to identify, research and engage with companies on critical climate-related risks and opportunities. This extensive curriculum will empower our investment managers to better assess these increasing climate complexities, engage more effectively with companies and ultimately build more sustainable portfolios for clients.”

All investment teams at AB will enroll in a pilot program over the next year during which the curriculum will be presented in integrative, interactive intensive sessions. The investment teams will be guided to evaluate how companies’ risks and opportunities are associated with global climate change, including rising sea levels, wildfire hazards, predictive modeling for extreme weather and other potential consequences. The outcomes of the pilot program will enhance the curriculum so that it can serve as a model for the broader investment industry.

As part of this collaboration, AllianceBernstein is proud to serve as the lead sponsor of the Lamont-Doherty’s Open House on October 5th, 2019. This annual, free event invites the public to the Earth-Observatory’s campus to educate and engage visitors on climate and geologic threats through interactive labs, exhibits and lectures. For more information on the 2019 Open House, visit

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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