Climate activists protest Knapp’s Earth Day address

University President Steven Knapp speaks at an Earth Day event in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer
University President Steven Knapp speaks at an Earth Day event in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday afternoon. Charlie Lee | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet assistant news editors Andrew Goudsward and Avery Anapol

Flanked by pro-Fossil Fuel Divestment demonstrators, University President Steven Knapp spoke about the University’s commitment to sustainability Tuesday at the annual Earth Day Fair.

The sustainability office hosted the event and and featured representatives from green student organizations like Green GW and the GroW Garden, as well as outside vendors, including Zipcar.

About 30 protesters from Fossil Free GW gathered in response to the University’s decision last month to not divest from fossil fuels. Frank Fritz, the protest organizer and Fossil Free GW founder, said the group organized the silent demonstration to express their “frustration with the University that they are consistently betting against our future.”

“Every dollar invested in a coal company is a bet against our future,” Fritz said. “Every time GW wants to talk about sustainability we will talk about their fossil fuel investments.”

The protesters held up banners on both sides of the podium during Knapp’s speech. They wore white t-shirts printed with “Knapping on climate change.”

Fritz called Knapp’s efforts to combat climate change “wholly inadequate.”

During his remarks, Knapp highlighted the University’s efforts on sustainability in dining, construction, academics and government.

“We don’t always take the same approach to the problem we are trying to solve,” he said, gesturing to the protesters surrounding him. “That’s healthy in a university like this. We have debate, we have dialogue.”

Knapp touted the University’s efforts to get half of all its electricity from renewable sources, constructing energy efficient residence and academic halls, creating a sustainability minor and pledging to make sure one-fifth of food from University’s dining facilities locally and grown and sustainable by 2020.

“We are aspiring to be a model of urban sustainability,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of signs of that this year and in the recent years in terms of what we have accomplished.”

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