This week, Cornell joined 575 schools in the Energy Action Coalition to stop global warming, an environmental trend that has consistently gained prevalence on social and political agendas around the world.
The Energy Action Coalition, which consists of 41 organizations in universities across the United States and Canada, has united students in the Campus Climate Challenge, an effort to institute clean energy policies on college campuses. Groups in the Energy Action Coalition include Cornell’s Kyoto Now!, Americans for Informed Democracy and the Sierra Student Coalition.
Carlos Rymer ’09, a member of Kyoto Now!, said, “Global warming is the defining issue of our generation, and as Cornell students, we believe that Cornell should join other schools that have committed to eliminating their greenhouse gas emissions on campus. If we are to show our federal government that serious action is needed, we need to begin that action ourselves to show that we are ready for big changes now.”
Today, the students of Kyoto Now! are delivering a resolution to President David J. Skorton in which they ask him to reform Cornell’s energy policy through committing to carbon neutrality by 2008.
This can be achieved by using carbon offsets. Katherine McEachern ’09, vice-president of Kyoto Now!, explained that although “college students often feel like there’s nothing they can do about global warming, if Cornell commits to carbon neutrality, there will be a massive shift in the way other schools discuss and take action on this issue. As the largest Ivy, we should be leading the way to a clean energy future.”
The resolution also asks Skorton to sign an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) agreement, and to integrate ideas of sustainability into all dimensions of Cornell.
Students are delivering the resolution today to coincide with a national presentation given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in which it is presenting an updated climate report. The IPCC, a group of atmospheric scientists from across the world who study global warming and its effects, has revealed the powerful impact human action has had on the environment.
The United States, home to 4 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. When global warming causes the sea level to rise, rivers will flood the homes of those who cannot afford to leave. As a result, the populations of developing nations and the members of the lower socioeconomic classes in wealthy countries are the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.
As McEachern emphasized, “global warming is not just an environmental issue; it’s a human rights issue.”