By Katherine Smith, UK Greenthumb
After nearly five years of persistent and hard campaigning, UK Greenthumb has won its campaign for the University of Kentucky to lower its greenhouse gas emissions. UK aims to reduce its GHG emissions 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2025.The story of our victory has been published by media sources across the country, from Virginia to Texas to California. Our victory is important because it demonstrates the power of a united student voice.
I still remember the first time I ever heard about Greenthumb as a freshman in 2013. Former member Brock Meade was petitioning outside of the old student center and asked me to sign in support of developing a climate action plan at UK. Later, in the fall of 2014, I sought out Greenthumb at the student organization fair and met Caroline Engle who was tabling for Greenthumb that day. I started going to meetings and fell in love with the group’s mission and work, the sense of purpose it gave me, and the amazing people who were involved. Greenthumb helped me feel the empowerment I had been looking for and introduced me to an even bigger network of Kentuckians working for a better future.
Because students took a stand, UK is finally taking some responsibility for its contribution to climate change. As Kentucky’s flagship school, it is important for UK be a leader in environmental stewardship. I hope that UK will make further reduction commitments in an effort to reach zero carbon emissions. Though I appreciate the current commitment, it is simply not enough to have an effective impact before the climate is irreparably damaged. UK Greenthumb will monitor the progress of the current commitment and keep advocating for further reductions.
Greenthumb works not only to improve the environment but also to empower students to get involved. I hope that this victory will inspire even more students to get involved on their college campuses and make the change they want to see.
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The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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