Climate Change and Business Program

Climate change poses significant challenges and opportunities for business. The Climate Change and Business Program focuses on using markets and business skills to identify and implement solutions to mitigate, adapt to, or reverse climate change and its impacts on society globally. The program offers courses, experiential learning opportunities, research, conferences and seminars that develop connections to bridge theory and practice.

Courses

Columbia Business School is home to many leading experts in the climate change field, and has offered courses in this field for over a decade. In addition, Columbia students have the option of taking climate change electives across the university in disciplines including law, earth sciences, policy, public health, and engineering to name a few. Columbia Business School courses include:

  • B8448 The Business of Climate Change: Investing and Managing in a Changing Environment
  • B8363 Climate Finance
  • B8219 New Developments in Energy Markets
  • B8224 Energy and Resource Economics
  • B8352 Financing Energy Markets

Students interested in this area may also register for the courses listed below:

  • B8214 Business in Society: Doing Well by Doing Good?
  • B8349 Finance and Sustainability
  • B8423 Investor Influence on Corporate Sustainability
  • B8762 Modern Political Economy
  • B8767 Investing in Social Ventures

MBA students can find and cross register for courses across campus online.

Non-MBA students can cross register for MBA classes online.

A listing of climate-related courses in schools across campus can be downloaded here (PDF).


Three Cairns Climate Fellowship

The Three Cairns Climate Fellowship at Columbia Business School provides support to MBA/EMBA students who complete semester- or year-long projects at the intersection of climate change and business. Students may apply individually or in teams for projects that work with Columbia research faculty, or any type of organization or business in the U.S. or abroad that is addressing sustainability and climate change issues. Projects should focus on using markets and business knowledge, skills, and tools to identify and implement solutions to mitigate, adapt to, or reverse climate change and its impacts. The Three Cairns Climate Fellowship was endowed by Lise Strickler BUS’86 and Mark Gallogly BUS’86. Their recently established family office, Three Cairns Group, has a core commitment to making investments in decarbonizing the world economy.

Eligible projects

Projects can be semester or academic year-long projects, but must be completed by the end of April. Applicants may apply for projects scoped by the Center (these will be circulated prior to the application deadline) or source their own proposed project with a Columbia faculty member, or client organization from any sector in the U.S. or abroad. Students who find their own project should also provide a project description that includes the key questions for the project team, data sets (if applicable) and sources of research to explore, faculty or organization contacts the students will work with, a timeline, and deliverables.

Criteria for project and team selection

Fellowship applications should include:

  1. A clear purpose of the project and it’s potential to address climate change using business knowledge and skills, practices, or approaches;
  2. Clear expectations, realistic scope and deliverable(s) given the semester timeline;
  3. Collective skills set of the individual or team that applies to address the project needs and timeframe; and
  4. Internal organizational contacts and/or external advisors including Columbia faculty that have agreed to work with the applicant/student team.

Award and student obligations

Three Cairns Climate Fellowships will be awarded to between four to six projects each academic year. The fellowship award provides individual students without a team with up to $3,000, or project teams up to a maximum of $6,000 per team, upon completion of the project. Project teams can be any size, though we suggest not more than four per team unless a compelling case can be made (e.g. unusual skillsets, significantly large project scope etc.) that requires a larger team.

In addition to the final deliverables specified in the project description, Three Cairns Fellows must:

  1. Provide a short written summary of the project and its impact, to be made available online;
  2. Deliver a project presentation in April, which will be open to students, faculty, alumni, supporters, and external organizations; and
  3. Complete a short online survey about the project experience.

Students also have the option of receiving course credit in the spring by taking B8448 The Business of Climate Change: Investing and Managing in a Changing Environment.

Application process and deadlines

For MBA/EMBA students

An information session will be held this fall, and a team finder spreadsheet will also be circulated by email. MBA/EMBA student applications are due Monday January 29, 2018. Please download the application form and checklist online here.

For potential client/host organizations

If you are interested in working with a Three Cairns Fellow (individual or team of MBA/EMBA students), we accept applications on a rolling basis. Project descriptions are circulated at the start of the academic semester, for students to apply for these fellowship projects. These climate change projects may address research or strategic questions, market/customer segmentation growth, competitive or impact analyses, product development, operational, supply chain or financial issues faced by your organization or business. Students can typically work up to 10-15 hours per week on projects during the academic semester.

Please submit your proposed project online here.

Please contact the Center if you have any questions: socialenterprise@gsb.columbia.edu.

Experiential Learning

Columbia Business School provides a wide array of programming outside of courses for students to apply their problem-solving and decision-making abilities to the intersection of climate change and business. These opportunities leverage the many connections across the School and University -- in New York and beyond -- and provide a rich landscape for students to deepen their experiences and exposure to innovative market-based solutions to tackle climate change. These include:

Pro Bono Consulting Projects
Columbia Business School students may participate in pro-bono consulting projects with climate change related organizations through Columbia Pangea Advisors, Columbia Impact Investing Initiative (CI3), and the Small Business Consulting Program. Previous organizations with which students have completed projects include: SolarKal, One Degree Solar, MPOWERD and Volta River Authority.

Social Enterprise Summer Fellowships
The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise helps students from across campus gain experience with climate-focused organizations through Social Enterprise Summer Fellowships. These fellowships provide financial support to Columbia and Barnard undergraduate and graduate students engaged in summer internships that create social and environmental value. Examples of past organizations with which summer fellows have worked in the climate space include the White Roof Project, the Natural Resources Defense Council, E+Co, Qualitative Alternatives, Coalition for Rainforest Nations, One Architecture, Watt Fuel Cell, and Social Solar.

Nonprofit Board Leadership Program
The Nonprofit Board Leadership Program (NBLP) helps support nonprofit organizations, including those working to address climate change, and cultivate the next generation of nonprofit board leaders at Columbia Business School. Each NBLP student is matched with an alumnus who serves on a nonprofit board, and together they agree on a project for the student to complete during the course of the academic year. This project bolsters the nonprofit board’s understanding of an issue important to the organization and provides the student with a meaningful experience that draws on his or her course work at Columbia Business School. Students in the past have completed projects with Environmental Advocates of New York and Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, among others.

Columbia Business School Student Organizations
The Green Business Club is a professional student organization that provides students with a network of like-minded individuals to share knowledge and facilitate career building. The club provides educational and career development resources and events focused on a wide range of green business industries, and advocates for sustainable practices through campus greening projects.

The Energy Club empowers future leaders of the energy sector with the industry knowledge and networks needed to make a difference. They provide recruiting support for firms in the energy space and facilitate access to professional networks, industry talks, and other MBA energy organizations.

The Social Enterprise Club caters to students at Columbia Business School who want to use business skills to create social, environmental, and economic value within the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Through diverse events and numerous resources, they: 1) connect students interested in social enterprise with each other, faculty, alumni, professionals and organizations, 2) enrich their members' understanding of industries, ideas, and initiatives that create social impact, and 3) inspire students to become leaders who improve the world.

Faculty Leadership

Patrick Bolton
Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business

Vanessa Burbano
Assistant Professor

Kent Daniel
William von Mueffling Professor of Business; Chair of Finance Division

Geoff Heal
Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise

Bruce Usher
Co-Director of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Elizabeth B. Strickler '86 and Mark T. Gallogly '86 Faculty Director; Professor of Professional Practice

Research and Insights

Research Forums

The Near-term Impacts of Climate Change on Investors

Papers and Working Papers

Governance and Climate Change: A Success Story in Mobilizing Investor Support for Corporate Responses to Climate Change
Journal of Applied Corporate Finance (2016)
Mats Andersson, Patrick Bolton, Frederic Samama

Applying Asset Pricing Theory to Calibrate the Price of Climate Risk
Working Paper (2015)
Kent Daniel, Robert Litterman, Gernot Wagner

Hedging Climate Risk
Working paper (2014)
Mats Andersson, Patrick Bolton, Frederic Samama

Ambiguity and Climate Policy
Working Paper (2011)
Geoffrey Heal, Antony Milner, Simon Dietz

The Drivers of Greenwashing
California Management Review (2011)
Magali Delmas, Vanessa Burbano

Towards an International Green Fund
Working paper (2010)
Patrick Bolton, Roger Guesnerie, Frederic Samama

Corporate Environmentalism: Doing Well by Being Green
Is Economic Growth Sustainable? (2010)
Geoffrey Heal

Are We Consuming Too Much?
Journal of Economic Perspectives (2004)
Geoffrey Heal, Kenneth Arrow, Partha Dasgupta, Lawrence Goulder, Gretchen Daily, Paul Ehrlich, Simon Levin, Karl-Goran Maler, Stephen Schneider, David Starrett, Brian Walker

Uncertainty and Climate Change
Working Paper (2002)
Geoffrey Heal

Climate Change and Uncertainty
Working Paper (2002)
Geoffrey Heal, Bengt Kristrom

For more information about research on climate change, see the Program for Financial Studies.

Books and Chapters

Endangered Economies
Book (2016)
Geoffrey Heal

The Spectacular Growth of Solar PV Leasing
Renewable Energy Finance: Powering the Future (2015)
Bruce Usher, Albert Gore III

Tipping Climate Negotiations
Chapter in Climate Change and Common Sense: Essays in Honour of Tom Schelling (2012)
Geoffrey Heal, Howard Kunreuther

Environmental Markets: Equity and Efficiency
Book (2000)
Graciela Chichilnisky, Geoffrey Heal

Nature and the Marketplace: Capturing the Value of the Ecosystem
Book (2000)
Geoffrey Heal

Valuing the Future: Economic Theory and Sustainability
Book (1998)
Geoffrey Heal

Press and Media

We Already Know How to Curb Climate Change
Ideas and Insights (2017)
Geoffrey Heal

There's More Than One Route to Doing Well by Doing Good
Ideas and Insights (2016)
Vanessa Burbano

On the Heels of a Boom, a Foggier Future for Solar
Ideas and Insights (2016)
Bruce Usher

Up in Smoke
Ideas and Insights (2015)
Mats Andersson, Patrick Bolton, and Frederic Samama

Climate Change and the Next Great Recession
Ideas and Insights (2015)
Geoffrey Heal

The High Cost of Climate Uncertainty
Ideas and Insights (2015)
Kent Daniel

VW Scandal Just the Tip of the Greenwashing Iceberg
Ideas and Insights (2015)
Vanessa Burbano

Real Progress on Emissions Can Lead to a Global Pact
The New York Times (2014)
Bruce Usher

The U.S. as a Climate Change Leader?
Huffington Post (2014)
Bruce Usher

For more articles and insights on climate change at Columbia Business School, see Ideas at Work.

Cases

Architects of the Future? Tesla, Inc., Energy, Transportation, and the Climate
Columbia CaseWorks (2017)
Geoffrey Heal, Bruce Usher

From Pioneer to Pariah: SunEdison, Inc., and the Global Solar Photovoltaics Industry
Columbia CaseWorks (2017)
Geoffrey Heal, Bruce Usher

Pattern Energy and the YieldCo Sector
Columbia CaseWorks (2016)
Bruce Usher

Stanford Dumps Coal
Columbia CaseWorks (2015)
Andrew Ang, Bruce Usher

E+Co: A View from the Boardroom
Columbia CaseWorks (2013)
Bruce Usher

Keystone Solar
Columbia CaseWorks (2013)
Bruce Usher

The Mossi Ghisolfi Group Monetizing Beta Renewables
Columbia CaseWorks (2013)
Geoffrey Heal

The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm
Columbia CaseWorks (2012)
Bruce Usher

Citigroup and the Equator Principles
Columbia CaseWorks (2008)
Geoffrey Heal

Connections across Columbia University

The Climate Change and Business Program hosts interdisciplinary events in collaboration with other centers and schools across the University. The Near-term Impacts of Climate Change on Investors was a joint forum hosted by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Read about other recent events here and past events here.

The Program is also part of many environmental initiatives across the University. Key programs, centers, and student groups at Columbia University include:

The Earth Institute
Cross Campus
Columbia Business School
Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Barnard College
Columbia University Medical Campus
Columbia University Medical Campus is comprised of four schools: College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, Mailman School of Public Health, and School of Nursing.
Columbia College
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
School of General Studies
School of International and Public Affairs
Journalism School
Law School
School of Professional Studies
Union Theological Seminary