Boulder, CO

Students protest CU fossil-fuel investments at local UN climate summit

Matt Whittaker
University of Colorado students hold a demonstration at the Boulder campus to protest the school's investments in fossil fuel companies.Photo byBella Pao

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Boulder, Colo.) Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, a climate activist from a farming region in Uganda, remembers how her family went from supplying food to people in the area to not having enough to eat themselves as worsening heat waves decimated crop yields. 

Five meals a day dropped to two, and then one, she said Friday at a United Nations climate conference at the University of Colorado Boulder campus, where other activists joined her in drawing attention to the links between climate change and human rights. 

“As time went on, we lacked food because we could not get enough from our garden,” she said at the conference, where earlier in the day, CU students had demonstrated against the university system’s investments in fossil fuel companies.  

The free conference continues Saturday and Sunday at the University of Colorado Boulder, and people can register for virtual or in-person attendance here.

Nakabuye’s story is an example of how people in less developed nations who contribute relatively little to climate change often bear the brunt of its effects, such as worsened flooding, drought and wildfires.

Bringing the discussion of how climate change affects humans closer to home, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuit advocate for Indigenous rights, referenced the fatal Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Boulder County in a blaze worsened by heightened drought conditions. 

Watt-Cloutier drew from her experience as one of 165,000 Inuit as a way to humanize the impacts of climate change rather than thinking about them solely in the context of politics or economics.

“We haven’t been putting the human dimension in the forefront of these discussions,” she said. “It was always the polar bear or the ice. For us it’s about our children.”

Saying that the systems that brought about climate change are not the same ones that can solve the problem, Nakabuye pointed out that CU is known for its research into climate change but still invests in fossil fuel companies.

Earlier in the day, CU students protested just that, holding a demonstration and march calling on the university to divest its endowment, treasury pool and retirement funds from fossil fuels. 

Fossil Free CU led the protest and said more than 300 students participated in the campus march. Nakabuye also spoke at the demonstration. 

After the march, Fiona Nugent, a 19-year-old political science student at CU, took issue with the university holding a conference on climate change while investing in fossil fuel companies contributing to global warming.

“It’s harming our future by putting money into coal, oil and gas,” she said. 

Comments / 9

Published by

Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

Lakewood, CO

More from Matt Whittaker

Comments / 0