Climate Science and Investing

AB has forged a partnership with Columbia Climate School—bringing together climate and investing expertise to work toward a new understanding and new solutions to the mounting challenge of climate change.

Climate Science and Investing

Climate change is creating complex challenges for the planet and financial markets, and momentum is growing to address these risks through commercial, economic and regulatory action. That’s why AB is partnering with Columbia University’s Climate School.

AllianceBernstein and Columbia Climate School Logo

Collaborating with Columbia's leading climate scientists, we’ve developed programs to educate asset owners and AB investors. And as the founding member of the Corporate Affiliate Program at the Columbia Climate School, we’re bringing together commercial enterprises and Columbia’s pioneering climate and sustainability research.

The goal? To shape the next generation of professionals striving to address the effects of climate change and develop new solutions.

Learn more about how the partnership started and the Corporate Affiliate Program below.


Spotlight on the Latest Developments

Natural Hazards Index Tool

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at the Columbia Climate School launched version 2.0 of the Natural Hazards Index (NHI) map application in early 2023.

This NHI tool is the latest development of the continued collaboration between AB and the Columbia Climate School, featuring an interactive, publicly available application that examines physical climate hazard data in the United States. Developed by the NCDP and updated under this collaboration with AB, this map is now one of the most up-to-date, innovative tools that examine weather and climate change vulnerabilities, such as extreme heat and natural hazards, in communities and regions across the United States. The tool provides census tract-level granularity of these hazards across 14 different hazard layers, including extreme heat, drought, hurricanes, tornados and more.

NCDP has engaged with AB investors for more than a year to develop the NHI Tool by updating and refining disparate datasets and identifying and adding new data, which resulted in an expanded and improved centralized dashboard. AB is beginning to incorporate the NHI Tool into its investments in municipalities and securitized assets to analyze and better evaluate the various hazards related to physical climate risk and their impact on some of AB's fixed-income strategies.

Learn more in our blog, “When Disaster Strikes: Gauging the Investment Risk of Natural Hazards.”

Adults in seminar listening to speaker

Going to School: Climate Science and Portfolio Risk Training

In 2020, AB equity, fixed-income and multi-asset investment professionals completed the initial Climate Science and Portfolio Risk training—and so did our CEO and members of the AB Board. As part of the process, AB trained Columbia faculty members on how asset managers invest. To date, over 250 AB investors and other employees have completed the 12 hours of course work. 

Three years later, AB and Columbia kicked off the second iteration of the curriculum in 2023 to learn about the latest updates in the physical changes observed in the global climate from the scientific and academic community, and how these are shaping research and forecasts for the global weather phenomena and hydrological cycles that underpin economics, businesses and society. Columbia scientists, meanwhile, learn more about the investment process, helping them deliver more useful information to companies, communities and governments.

Aerial view of the Columbia University campus at night with view of New York City skyscraper off in the distance..

Informing Clients: The Client Climate Change and Investment Academy

We’ve always intended for the unique collaboration between AB and Columbia to serve the broader asset management industry, with asset owners and asset managers alike eager to explore the complex risks of climate change and integrate them more effectively in comprehensive investment decision-making.

That’s why AB launched the Climate Science and Portfolio Risk curriculum in 2021 through the Climate Change and Investment Academy, covering topics like: climate science, litigation, policy, solutions, and how integrate climate into the investment process. Throughout 2023, we released the second academy, diving into more topics with our partners at Columbia. More than 1,000 AB clients and other institutions gained access to Columbia’s research and faculty in curated sessions. More details on the Climate Change and Investment Academy 2.0 can be found below.

  1. Spotlight on Emerging Economies in the Energy Transition
    As both population sizes and levels of affluence continue to grow across emerging markets (EMs), these economies are poised to see strong future demand growth in energy consumption, which means that EMs could play a major role in the energy transition, with wide-ranging implications for climate, sovereign and corporate credit and geopolitics and energy security.
  2. Legacy Energy: Challenges and Opportunities in Decarbonizing China
    China’s decarbonization pathway includes 2030 and 2060 goals, and there is a complex relationship between the country’s traditional energy sources of oil, gas and coal and China’s set objectives of peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
  3. Examining Global Food Security through the Climate-Change Lens
    The confluence of geopolitical, climatic, infrastructure and other factors magnify food insecurity, particularly among emerging markets. 
  4. Natural Hazards Index: Dimensioning Physical Risks from Climate Change
    The Natural Hazards Index is the latest development in the collaboration between AB and Columbia Climate School, featuring an interactive, publicly available application examining physical climate hazard data in the US. 
  5. Evolution of Carbon Markets—Corporate and Investor Perspectives
    As countries and companies continue to explore avenues for achieving their decarbonization strategies, carbon instruments and the markets in which they trade are gaining prominence. 
  6. Biodiversity: Exploring Systemic Risks and Investable Opportunities
    Nature loss and concerns around biodiversity are of growing importance for investors, as these present both systemic risks and investable opportunities.
AllianceBernstein Climate Change Statement & TCFD Report

Collaborating on Climate Research

The collaboration between AB investors and Columbia academics on a climate curriculum has spurred ideas for joint climate-change research projects. The two institutions have kicked off a research agenda focusing on the intersection of the academic facets of climate science with AB’s investment processes.

AB investors and Columbia scientists and experts collaborate on climate issues in the investing process across portfolios, sectors, asset classes and regions. We’ embark on long-term, deep research projects exploring climate challenges, including natural hazards and global food security.

By sharing the results of this research through thought leadership, workshops and other avenues, we’ll demonstrate how investors are applying new insights to inform their decisions and stewardship activities.


Research Projects: From Natural Hazards to China’s Decarbonization Goals

Desert landscape of dry, cracking earth

Natural Hazards

Exploring how natural disasters are becoming more numerous, extreme and costly. To assess the potential financial damage, investors should better understand physical risks at the local level, including the use of the Natural Hazards Index.


Global Food Security

Research into how the conflict in Ukraine has created huge transportation and logistical challenges for food trade, both domestic and international, exacerbating global food security issues.


China’s Decarbonization Pathway

China has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are responsible for half the country’s CO2 emissions. Yet SOEs are also major players in China’s renewable and other low-carbon energy industries. It’s important for investors to understand the ecosystem in which SOEs operate to gain insight on the macro and microeconomic challenges that will determine whether China’s long-term carbon-neutrality plans are successful. Overlaying Columbia’s data streams on natural disasters and hazards at the county and municipal levels to help investors quantify potential damages to physical assets we invest in—including real estate and infrastructure.


AB-Columbia Climate School Resources


How the Partnership Started

In 2017, we started a conversation with leading scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute to help our investment teams better integrate climate change into our investment process, ultimately improving outcomes for clients.

Our dialogue produced a pilot climate-risk training program in February 2019 for select AB investment professionals across asset classes. The program, later formalized as the Climate Science and Portfolio Risk curriculum, addresses: the science of climate change; its policy, legal and regulatory aspects; solutions; and tools for translating climate science into financial impact.

Based on the pilot’s resounding success and complementary opportunities for joint research, we began a deeper collaboration with the Earth Institute, announced in September 2019 and managed by our Director of Environmental Research and Engagement.


Founding the Corporate Affiliate Program at the Columbia Climate School

In the first half of 2021, AB launched another phase in the collaboration between climate science and investment science. We became the founding member of the Corporate Affiliate Program at the newly launched Columbia Climate School. It’s the world’s first school built to focus exclusively on climate change and its challenges—with an emphasis on solutions.

AB’s commitment to the Climate School marks a new paradigm in the approach of financial-services firms to addressing climate change. For Columbia, partnering with a commercial business is recognition that the size, scope and challenge of climate change require a new approach in academia, leveraging the role of businesses and capital markets.

As the program’s founding member, AB will bring together commercial enterprises and Columbia’s pioneering climate and sustainability research. By integrating the unique perspectives and skills of investors and scientists, AB and Columbia seek to shape the next generation of professionals striving to manage climate risk and develop solutions.


AB-Columbia Climate Thought Leadership

Investment Insights
The menacing shape of an oncoming tornado dominates the skyline over a bleak landscape.
When Disaster Strikes: Gauging the Investment Risk of Natural Hazards
December 01, 2023 / 4 min read
by Sam Wilamowsky, Patrick O'Connell, Larry Bellinger, John Huang Investors need to understand the potential physical damage from natural hazards before they can assess their financial implications.
ESG in Action
Hundreds of tree stumps on a barren forest floor fade into dirty brown smog.
Investing Lessons from Climate School, Class of 2023
November 07, 2023 / 13 min read
by Zac Greear Selections from our latest Climate Change and Investment Academy, including the latest in climate science and solutions, from an investment perspective.
ESG in Action
Wind turbines snake across a mountaintop in the Chinese province of Jinhua, while the sun rises in the distance.
ESG in Action: China’s State-Owned Enterprises Hold Keys to Carbon Neutrality
September 14, 2022 / 12 min read
by Philippe Benoit, John Lin With the right policy guidance and financing, state-owned enterprises can help China make progress in its green reform agenda.
Investment Insights
Aerial view of a grain harvester making its way through a field of wheat.
Conflict Brings a New Challenge to Global Food Security
June 17, 2022 / 7 min read
by Sara Rosner, Michael Puma The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the challenges to global food security, putting major portions of critical agricultural commodities at risk. Where does the world go from here?