September 2, 2008

C.U. Alum Wins Sierra Club Prize

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A few weeks following his graduation last spring, Carlos Rymer ’08 received an e-mail containing news. Rymer — whose legacy at Cornell reads like a laundry list of the University’s recent sustainability initiatives — had won the Sierra Club’s 2008 Joseph Barbosa Award.
Rymer was nominated for the award , which recognizes club members under 30 years old who have “a demonstrated record of service to the environment,” by Bonnie Tillery, who worked with Rymer at the local Sierra Club near his hometown in New Jersey. He will fly to San Francisco on Sept. 20 to be honored by the Sierra Club, where he will receive a $250 grant for his work.
The Sierra Club is a national conservation organization that was founded in the late 19th century by John Muir. Annually, the Sierra Club recognizes exceptional volunteers inside and outside of the club who have made strides to protect the environment.
In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore received the Club’s most prestigious honor, The John Muir Award.
“Carlos Rymer is an environmental leader and activist,” Tillery told the Sierra Club in a press release. “When we finally met in person, I was taken aback. Here was a quiet, unassuming young man who is a powerhouse for the environment. I can think of no one more deserving of the Joseph Barbosa Award.”
At Cornell, Rymer majored in the science of natural and environmental systems and served as president of the Sustainability Hub. He spearheaded initiatives such as the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging Cornell to “recognize the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest.” Rymer is being honored for work that extends beyond the scope of what he accomplished at Cornell. In 2007, Rymer helped lead the New Jersey Climate March — a state-wide initiative that lead to the passage of the Global Warming Response Act, committing the state to reduce its carbon emission levels by 80 percent by 2050.
Additionally, he has worked in the Dominican Republic on an array of projects that include consulting for a wind power project, working on an agriculture project and raising local awareness about sustainable developments.
Since this spring, Rymer has been working on getting his masters degree in public administration in environmental policy from Columbia University, which he plans to receive in May. Upon graduating, he hopes to devote his career to sustainable development in Latin America. Just last week, he traveled to Mexico, where he is working to create a Latin American energy efficiency coalition, which will provide the region with access to information, resources and means of collaboration.
Despite his absence, Rymer expressed high hopes for the future of sustainability initiatives at Cornell.
“[The sustainability movement] is still strong, I think,” he said. “There are still a lot of people involved who will be good leaders. The administration is doing a lot [with regards to sustainability] and it will continue to grow on campus and across the nation.”
Despite the state of current events, Rymer is confident that the American people have a vested interest in the environment.
“With the election and the current economic crisis, interest [in sustainability] will continue to grow,” Rymer said.

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