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University of California Campuses Rally in Support of UC-wide “UC Green New Deal”
by UCSC Climate Coalition and UC Green New Deal (ucgreennewdeal [at] gmail.com)
Students, faculty, and staff who are part of the UC Green New Deal Coalition, along with members of environmental organizations, campus Sustainability Offices, and concerned individuals on all ten UC campuses, conceived of the idea of an “Intercampus Earth Day” to draw inspiration from each other and to share resources and events that promote more climate awareness and climate action. Nine UC campuses are rallying on Earth Day to promote climate action. Several campuses, in addition to their rallies, have more elaborate plans, like UC Merced’s Shakespeare in Yosemite and UC Santa Cruz’s full day of Climate Teach-Ins, featuring several dozen scholars, students, and community leaders hosting concurrent talks.
sm_ucsc_earth_day_final.jpg
This Earth Day, April 22, in a historic show of collective concern and action, students, staff, and faculty at nine University of California campuses are rallying to confront the UC’s complicity in contributing to the climate crisis and advocate a bold, just, and transformative UC-wide “UC Green New Deal.”

Although earlier this month UC President Michael Drake tweeted that he was “proud of how UC scientists & researchers are paving the way to a more resilient CA” through their pioneering research and technological innovations, UC itself continues to burn fracked methane which contributes more than a million metric tons/year of carbon dioxide through its Scope 1 (direct campus power) emissions – a level that has remained constant for a decade even as its scientists call with increased urgency for a rapid transition off fossil fuels.

Instead, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) continues to promote its “Carbon Neutrality Initiative” that involves purchasing carbon offsets, a system of exchanging “carbon credits” that independent non-partisan research groups like ProPublica call “worse than nothing.”

UC’s own scientists like UC Berkeley Professor of Climate Physics David Romps say that carbon offsets merely let UC “atone” for its fossil fuel use and lead students and the public to confuse “carbon neutral” with “carbon free.”

Students are attracted to the UC system for its leadership in climate research but are often surprised to discover the large carbon footprint associated with its energy systems. Adam Cooper, a PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Chemistry, observes, “San Diego is a global leader in clean energy and I can get 100% renewable energy from the grid where I live. But when I come onto campus to conduct climate-related research, 70% of the electricity I use comes from burning fracked methane on campus.”

The UC Green New Deal Coalition of UC faculty, students, and staff, was founded in 2020 and now includes hundreds of members from all ten UC campuses working to push UC beyond “carbon neutral” to genuinely carbon free. They developed an over 150-point “UC Green New Deal Policy Platform, written over the course of a year and a half using ideas and community feedback from activist volunteers from the UC community. The Platform goes beyond the central ask for a rapid transition to renewable energy on each campus to also demand more climate education, sustainably-sourced food systems, total divestment from fossil fuels, waste reduction, fair labor practices, climate accountability, green transportation, local affordable housing, land-use policies that guarantee the green construction, water justice, and respect for indigenous sovereignty. The Platform aims to provide a roadmap of detailed possible solutions, a menu of green ideas for the UC administration to adopt immediately within a rapidly closing window to safeguard a just and livable future.

As of now, over 1256 UC affiliated people – faculty, undergraduate students, postdocs, clinicians, nurses, graduate students, administrators, staff, alumni, and parents from across all ten campuses – have already signed the UC Green New Deal Petition. The UC GND Policy Platform and Petition have been officially endorsed by many UC-affiliated organizations and unions including the University of California Graduate and Professional Council (UC-GPC represents ~60,000 graduate and professional students at the University of California), California Nurses Association (CNA represents ~100,000 nurses in California), and University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA 9119, the union representing ~16,000 professional and technical employees at the University of California).

Students, faculty, and staff who are part of the UC Green New Deal Coalition, along with members of environmental organizations, campus Sustainability Offices, and concerned individuals on all ten UC campuses, conceived of the idea of an “Intercampus Earth Day” to draw inspiration from each other and to share resources and events that promote more climate awareness and climate action. They have been meeting by zoom for several months to share their Earth Day plans and help each other with organization.

Nine UC campuses are rallying on Earth Day to promote climate action. Several campuses, in addition to their rallies, have more elaborate plans, like UC Merced’s Shakespeare in Yosemite and UC Santa Cruz’s full day of Climate Teach-Ins, featuring several dozen scholars, students, and community leaders hosting concurrent talks on topics ranging from Antarctic ice flow dynamics to California’s drought to legal mechanisms for protecting natural resources.

The “Intercampus Earth Day” planners are committed to consistent actions calling on the UC administrators to act on the climate research they praise in tweets. Our UC system, our state, and people around the world, these activists say, do not have a moment to lose.

Below are some quotes from students around the University of California in support of the UC Green New Deal Petition:

“It's time for the UC to take a step towards leadership in the climate crisis. How can we honestly teach our students about science and the world, if the UC as a public university fails to uphold and promote the findings of its own scientists?”
— Alison Lipman, Faculty at UC Los Angeles

“This is not a theoretical discussion, this is a matter of survival; the UC System has the resources, public prestige, and infrastructure to make these necessary changes, taking advantage of the creative minds within the system. All that's missing is the leadership and support from UCOP, Regents, and Chancellors. Please do the right thing.”
— Luke Stroth, Graduate Student, UC San Diego

“I want a university that prioritizes not just my education and future career, but also my future on this Earth!”
— Bijan Ashtiani-Eisemann, Undergraduate Student at UC Santa Cruz

“As a leader in climate science and a significant employer, educator, and part of the community in California, it is the UC’s responsibility to take decisive, concrete climate and justice action to combat the climate crisis.”
— Alyssa Jain, Undergraduate Student at UC Santa Barbara

“The University of California has tremendous power as a research institution to commit to bold climate action. The future of our world is at stake, and the UC is responsible to do what they can to stop climate change. Please sign the UC Green New Deal for us students, faculty, staff, and greater humanity.”
— Kairo Weber, Undergraduate Student at UC Davis

For further inquiries, please contact:
Press contacts only.

Bijan Ashtiani-Eisemann
UCSC, Undergraduate
bashtian [at] ucsc.edu
(760) 685–6564

Jason Samaha, PhD.
UCSC, Assistant Professor of Psychology
jsamaha [at] ucsc.edu
(408) 712-8497

Lisette Jones
UCSC Undergraduate Student - Environmental Studies
lpjones [at] ucsc.edu
(310) 920 2853

Gwen Parden
UCSC Undergraduate
gparden [at] ucsc.edu
(562)335-1994

Maya Caminada
UCSC Undergraduate
mcaminad [at] ucsc.edu
(805)709-5323

Max Henri Rogozienski
UCSC, Undergraduate
mrogozie [at] ucsc.edu
(619) 559-2614

Derede Arthur
Continuing Lecturer, Writing Program
dlarthur [at] ucsc.edu
831 261 4641

Sponsors:

University of California Green New Deal Coalition
@ucgreennewdeal, ucgreennewdeal [at] gmail.com

UC Santa Cruz Climate Coalition
@ucsc.climatecoalition, https://sites.google.com/ucsc.edu/ucsc-climate-coalition/home
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