Net Zero Endowments Initiative

Net Zero Portfolios are an effective and powerful way for investors to reduce risks associated with climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.  They also accelerate corporate climate action to reduce systemic risk for all investors and to protect current and future generations from climate impacts. 

A commitment to Net Zero means committing to transition the investment portfolio to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, taking into account the best available scientific knowledge including the findings of the IPCC, and regularly reporting on progress, including establishing intermediate targets every five years in line with Paris Agreement Article 4.9. 

Social equity is central to the need to address the climate crisis.  Marginalized communities, disproportionately Communities of Color, are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts.  To ensure an equitable and just transition, climate solutions must be viewed from a holistic perspective to ensure all communities are protected and have opportunities to benefit from the wealth generated in creating a new economy.   

IEN convenes and supports endowments in learning about Net Zero Portfolios, making commitments, and participating in shareholder engagement efforts to get portfolio companies onto decarbonization pathways aligned with the 1.5 degree C warming target of the Paris Climate Agreement.  

If you or your organization would like to learn more or participate in our initiative, please contact Georges Dyer at [email protected]. We also invite current and prospective participants to fill out this brief form.


Net Zero Endowments Steering Committee

  • Co-Chair: Delicia Nahman, Director of Sustainability, Lafayette College
  • Co-Chair: Tim Coffin, Director of Sustainability, Member of Consultant Relations Team, Sustainability Committee Chair, Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • Carol Jeppesen, Head of US, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  • Chuck O'Reilly, CIO, University of Toronto Asset Management (UTAM)
  • Cornelia Horner, Strategic Initiatives and Communications Lead, the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO)
  • Grace Eddy, Director, Generation Foundation
  • Henry Lancaster, Director, HBCU Green Fund; and Trustee, Lincoln University (PA)
  • Jeff Mindlin, CIO, Arizona State University
  • Jonathan Chan, Account Manager - Capital Markets, CDP North America
  • Jouni Korhonen, Trustee and Chair, Investment Committee, Lewis & Clark College
  • Julianna Brunini, Associate Director of Research and Research Analyst, Terra Alpha Investments
  • Kaede Kawauchi, Manager (Investor Network), Ceres
  • Kate Murtagh, Managing Director, Sustainable Investing and Chief Compliance Officer, Harvard Management Company
  • Kelly Green, Financial Advisor, Institutional Consultant, Graystone Consulting
  • Lindsey White, Director of Programs, CREO
  • Madeline Clark, Associate Investment Director, Sustainable & Impact Investing, Cambridge Associates
  • Meredith Heimburger (Partner, Head of Impact) & Pu-Ning Chiang (Impact Investments Analyst), Global Endowment Management (GEM)
  • Pedro Henriques da Silva, Director, Shifting Trillions, Sierra Club Foundation
  • Rachel Robascotti, Founder & CEO, Adasina Social Capital
  • Sarah Wilson, Managing Director, Head of ESG Integration, Nuveen
  • Sheldon Gen, Investment Committee Chair, San Francisco State University Foundation
  • Tamara Larsen, Partner, US ESG Investments Practice LeaderMercer, and IC member, David Rockefeller Fund
  • Tracy Gray, Trustee, CSU Dominguez Hills Foundation
  • Karim Zahr, CFA - Senior Analyst, Responsible Investing, McGill University
  • Yale Loh, Treasurer, University of British Columbia

Net Zero Groups and Initiatives


Net Zero Commitments by Endowments: 


IEN Net Zero Endowments Briefing Paper


Briefing Paper: Net Zero Endowments to Address the Climate Crises and Lead a Just Transition | IEN (November 2023)

This briefing paper provides endowment decision-makers and their service providers with an introductory, high-level overview of net zero portfolio commitments. It provides clarity on what it means to have a net zero commitment, and what making and implementing such a commitment entails. 



White Paper 

Leading with Justice: Net Zero Investing & Conversations on Climate Justice | IEN and GEM (February 2022)

This paper is a result of the efforts by a subcommittee of IEN's Net Zero Endowments Steering Committee to explore climate justice and aims to do three things: provide a background and working definition of climate justice; argue that climate justice is central to reaching net-zero goals; and provide practical methods to implementing climate justice. 



Sampling of other IEN Net Zero Endowment activities: 

  • The Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance | NZ Asset Owners Alliance, Zurich Insurance (October 2020) 

  • Introductory roundtable conversation on Harvard’s Net Zero Commitment with endowments totaling over $95 billion in assets (held under Chatham House Rule, no recording available) (July 2020)


Key Frameworks & Protocols


Other Net Zero Resources 


Investors committing to net zero are proactively positioning their portfolios for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.  As the cost of clean alternatives to fossil fuels declines and consumers increasingly recognize the need to shift, carbon-intensive companies risk losing value, and fossil fuel companies that are not leading a just transition risk stranding assets.  Further, research from the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) on the Inevitable Policy Response forecasts that governments will implement a climate-policy response by 2025 that will be “forceful, abrupt, and disorderly because of the delay.” 

The September 2020 report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commissions (CFTC) titled Managing Climate Risks to the US Financial System underscored the risks associated with climate change to the financial system, the economy, and investors.  Its top recommendation was for Congress to establish a price on carbon. It also found that:

“the financial system can itself be a catalyst for investments that accelerate economic resilience and the transition to a net-zero emissions economy. Financial innovations, in the form of new financial products, services, and technologies, can help the U.S. economy better manage climate risk and help channel more capital into technologies essential for the transition.” 

Endowments and other asset owners have a critical role to play by proactively pursuing net-zero portfolio -- to protect their capital, reduce systemic risk, and minimize the damage and suffering of climate impacts.  



This initiative is generously supported by:


Lead Sponsors





Supporting Sponsors




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