Members of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice interrupted an event featuring British Petroleum on Tuesday morning to protest what they called the company's abuse of workers, human rights and the environment.
The event, which was hosted by the Center for Global Energy Policy, included the release of the BP Energy Outlook, an annual report prepared by the company on the future of the energy industry. The company's chief economist, Spencer Dale, presented the report.
Since its formation in fall 2012, CDCJ has been campaigning for the University to divest from fossil fuels and promote the message that the fossil fuel industry "can no longer get away with the destruction of our environment."
"BP is here to tell us about our outlook on energy, but they refuse to tell us about our outlook on survival. BP profits from climate change and human rights violations," CDCJ organizer Iliana Salazar-Dodge, CC '16, said at the protest. "BP has blood on its hands. Do you trust them with our futures?"
During the protest, members of the groups mentioned various instances of the company's negligence—including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the kidnapping and torture of a Colombian trade unionist, and an explosion at a Texas refinery that killed 15 workers and injured over 180.
"BP can pay its way out of environmental disasters and human rights violations, but their money will never bring back the lives of those who died in the Gulf, in Texas City, or at the hands of paramilitaries in Colombia," a press release for the event said. "BP has devastated people's lives, and it shows no signs of stopping."
In a video taken by activists, crowd members booed the CDCJ members as they protested the event.
The group's emphasis on the intersection of climate justice, labor rights, and human rights is not new. In December of last year, CDCJ and five other activist groups formed the Barnard Columbia Solidarity Network, which has presented a list of six key demands to the University that range from a minimum $15 wage for work-study jobs to more diverse faculty.
During the protest, CDCJ members also noted that both the University and the Center for Global Energy Policy have received funding from Exxon, "which has targeted Columbia journalists simply for exposing the truth," CDCJ organizer Caroline Lee, CC '18, said.
While neither the press release nor the statement read by activists explicitly alleged that the University's endowment is invested in BP, CDCJ organizer Amy Wang, CC '18, said during the protest, "BP, you are not welcome in our endowment."
CDCJ declined to comment, and a spokesperson for BP and the Center for Global Energy Policy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.