Following the divestment decision made in March of 2017, a working group of students, faculty, and trustees has been conducting research to develop clear and rigorous criteria to evaluate companies' statements, actions, and attitudes towards climate science and climate change. This is consistent with Barnard’s mission as an academic institution supporting the open exchange of scientific information, the free flow of information and transparency.
Research, Methodology and Criteria
Research was based upon publicly available data, which allowed for rigorous evaluation of the issue and was available through such sources as: company websites, public regulatory filings and credible third party sources including MSCI, Sustainalytics, InfluenceMap and the CDP. Unsurprisingly, we found that companies that disclosed information to the CDP, for example had, for the most part, been transparent and accountable for their climate change positions and actions that the working group was able to verify using other publically available sources. Those companies that provided incomplete data to the CDP or failed to disclose any data were most often deficient in their overall transparency of their operations with regard to climate change. And overall, companies that made a greater effort to mitigate climate change, through support for regulating emissions, for example, tended to have a clearer public articulation of their position on climate change.
The criteria may be adjusted overtime, as new information and data sources come to light.
- What is the company’s position on climate change?
- What action is the company taking to reduce its carbon footprint?
- Is climate science integral to the governance and oversight of the company?
- What are the company’s affiliations with third parties that spread disinformation on climate science?
- Does the company publicly support the need for climate policies and regulations?
- Has the company been publicly transparent about their position, actions and affiliations with regard to climate science and climate change??
The College will work with Fossil Free Indexes (FFI), creators of The Carbon Underground 200 (CU200) list, to help refine its criteria, evaluate a subset of companies from their CU200 list, and develop a climate action list that can be used by Barnard and other organizations to make informed investment decisions. FFI, with support from the Union of Concerned Scientists, offers the College the most credible way to vet companies according to criteria developed internally and has access to more comprehensive data and can engage companies directly to fill in any gaps.
- FFI will vet a subset of companies from their CU200 oil and gas list, devising a climate action list on the College’s behalf.
- The climate action list will be publicly available in the spring of 2018 along with supporting information that Barnard and other organizations can use to determine which companies to invest or exclude from investment.