Green New Deal Lewisburg to hold second climate strike of semester

Will Metzler, Contributing Writer

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Students, faculty, staff and members of the Lewisburg community have planned to come together for the second climate strike of the semester as part of a coordinated Global Week of Climate Action.

The first climate strike on campus garnered the attendance of approximately 600 individuals. Green New Deal Lewisburg, the environmental activist group that organized the last strike, is eager to replicate the same level of energy and excitement despite the overlap with finals week.

According to Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Andrew Stuhl, the strike will run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will begin in front of the Elaine Langone Center’s uphill entrance and will progress throughout the campus as participants go caroling from climate action. The carols sung will not only be holiday classics celebrating the season, but also songs that come from the history of the struggles for social justice. As carolers make their way around the campus, the strike will stop at multiple locations where student speakers will share how climate change and environmental injustice has impacted their own lives.

The climate strike is part of a week of coordinated global climate action that kicked off on Nov. 29, when millions of individuals across the globe took to the streets to raise awareness about the implications of climate change. The protests were timed to coincide with United Nations climate negotiations that took place in Madrid, Spain on Dec. 2. Building on this momentum, the climate strike organized by Green New Deal Lewisburg will be part of the 300 strikes planned to take place at the same time in the United States. Nationwide, around 8 million individuals are estimated to take part in the day of action.

The strike will serve as a means to celebrate the recent victories of Green New Deal Lewisburg. In addition to the strong support shown at the first strike, many were excited to hear the news that University President John Bravman shared regarding the plan to reforest the campus front lawn. “We want to celebrate that, recognizing that when the campus community comes together, we can make the change we need,” Stuhl said. 

The strike also aims to call upon the University to take further action toward carbon neutrality and environmental responsibility. “In a globalized, increasingly connected world, everything we do has downstream effects, whether we on the consuming end of things can ‘see’ them or not. We need to do better,” Sarah Wochele, hub coordinator of Green New Deal Lewisburg, said.

In order to centralize the issue, Green New Deal Lewisburg has focused on three “asks” to help build a more sustainable campus. Reforesting the front lawn was the first, and perhaps the easiest to accomplish. The second demand calls on the University to divest in fossil fuel industries. The third, which Stuhl refers to as “the elephant in the room,” asks the University to shut down the fossil fuel cogeneration plant. 

The plant, which produces 90 percent of the electricity on campus, expels 25 megatons of carbon dioxide every year. Green New Deal Lewisburg is adamant that in order to reach the University’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, the University must end their dependence on fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. The members of Green New Deal Lewisburg recognize that achieving this goal will not be easy, but are determined to make it happen.

“We’re up against the wealthiest and most powerful folks in the world, fossil fuel billionaires, and the only way for us to transform our society and economy into becoming more environmentally responsible is by making our generation’s demands impossible to ignore. This is why we strike,” Mary Collier ’21 said.

After the strike, Green New Deal Lewisburg aims to continue to push for positive change. Wochele indicated that the group will make further demands in the upcoming spring semester.

“We can win this, but we need an approach that shows unequivocally that business-as-usual won’t cut it. Hence the strike,” Stuhl said.

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