Published: Nov. 28, 2022

Dear students, faculty, staff and all Global Climate Summit attendees,

We are grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit on our campus. We are thrilled for this week finally to be upon us, and we welcome you all—those attending locally and those tuning in globally.

Convening such an event comes with great responsibility. CU Boulder carries a rich legacy as a decades-long leader in environmental research and sustainability. CU Boulder is one of the top research universities in the world for geoscience and climate science. Our students set a new bar more than 50 years ago when they formed the nation’s first student-based Environmental Center—a body that continues to thrive. And CU Boulder was the first university to achieve STARS Gold status for sustainable campus operations.

Chancellor Philip DiStefano

Chancellor Philip DiStefano

Chief Sustainability Officer Heidi VanGenderen

Chief Sustainability Officer Heidi VanGenderen

Recognizing this legacy, our university continues to take bold actions, such as:

In this same spirit, the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit has been intentionally formatted to reduce the environmental footprint of the summit through:

  • Hybrid conference: We’ve structured the summit as a hybrid event, encouraging attendees to participate from wherever they are to reduce air travel, which is a significant producer of carbon emissions for international conferences. Attending remotely fits with the conference core tenet of encouraging all who attend to engage locally on summit topics to effect change in their communities. 
  • Carbon offsets: The Global Climate Summit is purchasing carbon offsets to account for the air travel of all keynote speakers and panelists. Additionally, attendees participating in person can purchase their own carbon offsets for travel to the event through our partners at AQ Green TeC.
  • Conscious catering: Catering for Global Climate Summit events will prioritize food sourced from local farmers and suppliers, as well as from greenhouses on the CU Boulder campus.
  • Zero waste: All summit events and meals will utilize sustainable materials and provide recycling and compost receptacles to minimize the amount of waste going to landfills. Meeting lanyards and badge holders are made from recycled products and are biodegradable.
  • Sustainable transportation: In partnership with Via Mobility, electric buses will be used to transport attendees to, from and across campus for events in an effort to reduce automobile travel.

We acknowledge that members of our community may ask our university and local, national and world leaders to do more and do it faster. In recent weeks, we’ve heard renewed calls for the university to divest from fossil fuels and seen our CU Student Government and the Boulder Faculty Assembly endorse this effort. 

CU Boulder shares our campus community’s passion for sustainability and addressing the global humanitarian crisis of climate change. The issue of divestment of the University of Colorado’s financial assets is a complex one, and it falls under the purview of CU system leadership and the Board of Regents. We encourage our students, faculty and others who are passionate about this issue to explore the details, engage constructively and continue to dialogue with the Board of Regents and leadership of the CU system.  

We also recognize the importance of continued investment strategies, such as the examples offered above, and will continue to pursue these opportunities as robustly as possible. Meaningful actions in our research, teaching and operational endeavors are at the heart of our values and our work.

“Think globally. Engage locally.” Those four words aren’t just a catchy tagline. They’re an ethos that we’re hoping all who attend the Global Climate Summit this week will take to heart as we strive to make positive impacts on humanity in our own communities through climate action. 

The responsibility is one we all share as we seek equitable climate solutions that transcend social and economic boundaries and help all human beings thrive.


Phil DiStefano

Heidi VanGenderen
Chief Sustainability Officer