DENVER, CO -- On Thursday, April 16, organizers with Fossil Free CU had their fourth meeting with the Board of Regents this school year. A majority of the student supporters were at CU-Boulder occupying Norlin Quad celebrating the end to their 3-day, 2-night occupation with a civil disobedience training.
Alana Wilson, a graduate student in Geography at CU-Boulder said, “Fossil Free CU is occupying Norlin Quad to send a message to our administration that investing in the corporations that are perpetuating climate chaos is wrong. So, we’re asking the 9 CU Regents, ‘Whose side are you on?’”
Unlike previous Regents’ meetings, a dozen individuals, mostly community members with affiliation to the oil and gas industry, also attended wearing “No Divest” stickers. Everyone speaking against fossil fuel divestment had up to two minutes to speak. Nearly all mentioned the need to make decisions grounded in economics and upholding fiduciary responsibility.
Despite the short notice, Fossil Free CU invited three finance experts. “In general economic terms, fossil fuel investments no longer appear to be the attractive source of risk-adjusted returns they were historically,” explains Garvin Jabusch, Chief Investment Officer at Green Alpha Advisors in Boulder, CO. “Our clients, members and other vested parties are increasingly and justifiably asking us what we are doing to address the systemic, potentially catastrophic risk posed by these unstable assets. For us the answer is simple: we’re avoiding them outright.”
John Powers, an alumni of CU-Boulder’s Business School, founder of Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and a member of the Boards and Finance Committees of the Educational Foundation of America and Prentice Foundation, also joined Fossil Free CU. Powers agreed to be a resource for the CU Regents. “The question isn’t if CU is violating its fiduciary responsibility by divesting; it's whether CU is violating its fiduciary responsibility by not divesting.”
After listening to speakers both supporting and opposing divestment, the CU Board of Regents voted 6-3 against the formation of a committee, originally proposed by Regent Shoemaker and seconded by Regent Griego. The committee was proposed to focus on sustainable investments and divestment possibilities. A resolution affirming the usual destructive fossil fuel investments, proposed by Regent Carson and seconded by Regent Sharkey, who said she does not agree that there is a problem with the climate, passed.
“The decision is a massive disappointment to the Fossil Free CU campaign. I am incredibly grateful that there are Regents like Linda Shoemaker and Irene Griego, who are listening to the students and engaging in dialogue and action” said Coby Wilkselaar, a student at CU Denver and a speaker at the meeting. “ I am disappointed, and unfortunately not surprised, that the formation of the committee was voted down, but this will not deter Fossil Free CU from continuing to demand a pathway for divestment. Fossil Free CU will continue to advocate, educate and take bold action to address climate change and justice, even as some CU Regents are afraid to do so.”