Students Applaud UK Commitment to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Urge Further Action
Nate Cortas, UK Greenthumb Media Coordinator
Phone: (502)-240-8531 | Email: email@example.com
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY -- Students at the University of Kentucky have claimed victory in their four-year campaign for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the university. President Eli Capilouto cited student leadership when he announced plans last week to reduce the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2025. Members of the campus environmental group UK Greenthumb expressed excitement and support for this latest effort to increase campus sustainability.
Greenthumb began campaigning for university administration to address UK’s contribution to climate change back in 2012. As one of the Commonwealth’s larger greenhouse gas-emitting institutions, the flagship university’s commitment to reduce emissions is a major victory for Greenthumb and the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of student environmental groups at 22 campuses across the state including UK.
To reach this campaign victory, Greenthumb members collected hundreds of signatures, garnered the backing of student government, and rallied with over one-hundred students to pressure administrators into developing a climate action plan.
Incoming Greenthumb co-coordinator Taylor Renfro said, “It’s been really awesome to see the hard work of past and current student members of Greenthumb pay off. It’s important to know that as students we have a voice. I hope that this inspires other students and student organizations to keep working towards their goals of higher standards for their university.”
Greenthumb has played a vital role in shaping a more sustainable campus over the years. Robert Kahane was a member of Greenthumb from 2005 to 2009, during which time he says Greenthumb won a multi-year campaign for a student fee for sustainability. “Even though progress is sometimes hard, UK has almost always done the right thing when it comes to sustainability. . . . [T]his policy gives UK a huge opportunity to be innovative in finding ways to reduce GHGs,” he said. “I think Greenthumb's success is another in a long list of accomplishments.”
UK is the latest in a series of Kentucky universities to commit to greenhouse gas reductions. Students conducted a successful climate action campaign at Eastern Kentucky University in 2015. Both Northern Kentucky University and Centre College signed on to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2007 and the University of Louisville signed on in 2008.
In its commitment, UK states that carbon-neutrality is a long-term objective for the institution. Representatives of UK Greenthumb say they will continue pushing for increased reduction commitments in order to reach this goal.
The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of students from 22 high school, college, and university campuses and non-student youth from across the state, calls on our U.S. Senators to protect the health and safety of the American people by preventing climate science denialist and fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt from being named the next administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA’s mission is “to ensure all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.” Pruitt’s own Linkedin profile touts himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” His appointment has led to public outcry, with several prominent environmental leaders, including the heads of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the World Resources Institute, issuing public statements denouncing the appointment, according to Newsweek.
Pruitt wrote in the National Review, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Human emissions of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels are destabilizing the global climate. This is fact. There is no legitimate debate. See the Weather Channel’s Kait Parker take on the Breitbart website for trying to mislead people on climate change. Appointing someone who actively misleads the public by denying scientific facts is an unethical and catastrophic decision.
The youth of this world will bear the disastrous consequences of such an appointment. It is our clean water, clean air, clean soil, and lives at stake. And we are running out of time to address anthropogenic climate change. We need strong leadership in the EPA that is interested in protecting public health and safety by working to mitigate the impacts of climate change and regulating polluting industries, not dismantling established protections for the benefit of the fossil fuel industry.
The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition is committed to helping create a clean and safe future for Kentuckians that supports a just economic transition and protects our workers and our environment. We do this by pushing our high schools and universities to be environmentally responsible through investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainable local food economies. We also aim to pass legislation to promote green job creation in KY, protect our natural resources, and oppose false solutions. We know that a bright future for young Kentuckians is one where we are able to stay and prosper after graduation, enjoy the natural wonder of our countryside and mountains, and instill strong values of compassion and environmental stewardship.