Students hold rally for UA delegation to Paris climate talks

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Natalie Robbins | The Daily Wildcat

Students gather on the UA Mall on Monday, Nov. 23, to create a banner for the UA delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Paris this week.

In an effort to support the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, known as COP21, students rallied on the UA Mall on Nov. 23 by placing their handprints on a banner displaying the message “UA Supports Climate Change.”

The banner was created by the Students for Sustainability Energy and Climate Committee. This effort comes on the heels of President Ann Weaver Hart’s signing of an environmental agreement called the Second Nature’s Climate Commitment along with other university presidents.

The conference will be held in Paris and is expected to host almost 150 world leaders, all hoping to agree on an international solution to the climate change issues affecting nations worldwide. Ideally, leaders would like to create an agreement that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. According to the COP21 website, the U.S., China and India—the three largest greenhouse gas emitting nations—are all scheduled to attend.

The banner is going to be sent with Diana Liverman who is attending the Paris Climate Talks on behalf of the UA, along with several graduate students.

“We’re eagerly awaiting a picture of the banner in Paris amongst world leaders,” said Madeline Ryder, a developmental practice graduate student and the committee chair of the Students for Sustainability Energy and Climate Committee.

The U.N. Conference on Climate Change will last from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. The UA holds a vested interest as it is one of the leading research universities regarding climate and environmental science, according to Ryder. She said she hopes the university can find a way to connect this research to the practices seen on campus.

“We have some world-renowned faculty members that are addressing climate change in a meaningful way on a national and global scale,” Ryder said. “However, our group wants to see that excellence turned towards the institution itself. We want to see some, if not all, of the major technological, research and policy achievements coming out of the UA applied to the UA.”

The banner event allowed UA students to demonstrate their support for climate action and they participated for a variety of reasons.

“This is the biggest problem that faces our generation, and our children and their children beyond that, so it is irresponsible for our leaders and us as a people not to address it now and pretend it doesn’t exist,” said Alexander Prescott, a hydrology and mathematics senior.

“I choose to support climate action because I believe we are all responsible for the planet we live on and the people we share it with,” said Mariela Castaneda, a developmental practice graduate student, “We are all affected in interconnected ways, and we have the duty to unite and address the challenge of global climate change.”

Support for climate action is important for students of all ages, according to Ryder.

“The younger the student, the more likely they are to be affected by climate change impacts,” Ryder said. “This doesn’t mean agreeing with whatever agreement comes out of Paris. Instead, it means staying informed, taking responsibility for your individual impact and being active if and when your leaders are not enforcing meaningful climate action.”

No matter the decision in Paris over the coming weeks, students can look to the leadership of the Students for Sustainability Energy and Climate Committee for ways to implement sustainability in and around the UA campus.


Follow Natalie Robbins on Twitter.



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