Students Disrupt BP Event at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy with Climate Justice Message

February 16, 2016

Nikita Perumal,
Daniela Lapidous,


Today, seven student organizers from Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ) disrupted the BP Energy Outlook presentation by chief economist Spencer Dale at the Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy. We made a statement calling attention to the company’s complicity in human rights violations, its record of violently silencing trade unions, and its shameful history of environmental disasters, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. BP is determined to continue to extract oil, coal, and gas—despite current scientific realities that tell us we must keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground.

Our “energy outlook” needs to center around justice—not around the pretense of a fair discourse with corporate giants. BP will never be capable of having a conversation that admits their wrongdoing or their deliberate green-washing of an extractive industry. We refuse to remain silent when BP has silenced thousands of labor activists who speak out against its practices. We refuse to remain silent when its business model will never envision the radical change in our energy mix that we need to ensure climate justice. We refuse to remain silent when our institution continues to profit from violence and climate chaos through both donations and investments.

In 2014 alone, Exxon gave $219,229 to Columbia [1]; in the past, the Center for Global Energy Policy has received at least $900,000 from Exxon [2]. Of course, Columbia has refused to divest its $9B endowment from the fossil fuel industry in the past several years of the campaign by CDCJ. We challenge Columbia, including its Center on Global Energy Policy, to cut all financial ties with fossil fuel companies like Exxon and BP.

You can find the statement our organizers read at the event below. In addition to the human rights violations outlined here, we recognize that there are countless other incidents of rights abuses by the company in Turkey, Indonesia, and the U.S., among other locations.

BP, you are not welcome here.

BP Energy Outlook Statement
read as disruption during BP event at SIPA on 2/16/16

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. BP has blood on its hands. Do you trust them with your future?

Science confirms that 80% of fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground for a global warming limit of 2 degree Celsius. BP’s current plan guarantees us 3 to 4 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. Even the World Bank is concerned that we cannot adapt to a 4 degree world. WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Colombian trade unionist Gilberto Torres is suing BP for their complicity in his 42-day kidnapping and torture. The paramilitaries who abducted Torres testified that fossil fuel companies Ocensa and BP spent $40,000 to finance his capture and planned murder. Thousands of labor activists have disappeared or been murdered in the region, which serves as a major extraction site with 500 miles of oil pipelines. WHO DO YOU TRUST?

BP has one of the worst worker safety records among large industrial companies in the US. In March 2005, 15 workers were killed and 180 were injured in a massive explosion at a Texas City refinery due to nearly 300 “egregious” safety violations. In March 2006, more than 250,000 gallons of crude oil spilled at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. BP was warned of the problem two years earlier, but chose to cut costs rather than implement proper safety measures. WHO DO YOU TRUST?

BP is responsible for the LARGEST marine oil spill in the history of fossil fuels: Deepwater Horizon. 11 workers went missing, and 210 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. A federal judge has since found BP guilty of gross negligence. WHO DO YOU TRUST?

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. BP has devastated people’s lives, and it shows no signs of stopping. WHO DO YOU TRUST?

The Center on Global Energy Policy takes dirty money from companies like BP and Exxon, which has targeted Columbia journalists simply for exposing the truth. Exxon KNEW about climate change before anyone else but DENIED the catastrophic consequences of burning fossil fuels. WHO DO YOU TRUST to protect the most vulnerable of us against climate change?