National Climate Change rallies extend to FGCU
Under a cloudless sky and with an intense sun beating down on them, a group of almost 20 FGCU students protested against global warming Nov. 30 on the Library Lawn.
The students joined the group of more than 600,000 people who participated in climate change rallies around the world Sunday, Nov. 29 and Monday, Nov. 30. The gatherings have taken place in more than 170 countries due to the start of the COP21: Climate Change Summit, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, in Paris on Monday, Nov. 30.
COP stands for Conference of Parties, which is a meeting of all 195 nations that make up the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. Since 2015 marks the 21st annual COP, it is being referred to as COP21. The purpose of the meetings has always been to negotiate agreements and set goals to reduce gas emissions in our planet.
This year, the objective is to settle a legally-binding agreement to limit the increase of the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialization levels. The summit is scheduled to last for two weeks, until Dec. 11.
The rally in FGCU was organized by Students for Environmental Justice, a Registered Student Organization on campus. The RSO’s personal objectives were to show it cares about climate justice and to protest against the recent change in FGCU sustainability efforts.
Students said FGCU recently changed its mission statement from “practice sustainability” to simply “promote sustainability.” That could not be confirmed through university spokeswoman Susan Evans, who is on vacation.
“(It) really makes me upset because we are the ones that need to practice it,” said Amanda Freeman, a senior psychology major and the vice president of the RSO.
Freeman also said FGCU is not as environmentally-friendly as it appears.
“A lot of (the energy) comes from solar energy and they have solar energy trashcans but they’re investing on (the fossil fuel industry) that’s so profitable and so bad for the environment,” Freeman said. “If we could change and re-invest in renewable energies, I feel like we’d finally be a green school.”
The original plans of the RSO were to march around the university; however, due to a low attendance rate, they only marched around the Library Lawn.
Helen Baillargeon, an environmental studies major and the president of the RSO, said she hoped 30 people would show up to the march, but only 18 did.
Kaely Dodd, an environmental studies major, assisted the protest at FGCU as well, because she was invited through a Facebook event.
“I only got the notification (on Facebook) like two and half weeks ago,” Dodd said. “And, it’s also finals week so it’s understandable why not a lot of people would show up or skip class for this.”
However, Dodd believes the rally was important to all majors, not only environmental everyone should attend this type of events.
“It’s not just an environmental issue,” Dodd said. “It’s an issue that crosses all boundaries — economic, political, social — it’s all interconnected.”
The three biggest and largest carbon emitters in the world are China, India and the United States. In August 2015, President Barack Obama proposed the Clean Power Plan, a strategy to stop carbon emissions. Obama hopes the plan will be accepted by the U.S. and other nations as a result of the COP21.
“I’m pretty sure America will sign it — Obama freaking created it,” Dodd said, “I just hope there’s not a lot of business lawsuits and resistance (in the U.S.) I just don’t majors, and want it to stall. I hope in U.S. territory we accept it overall.”
Dodd also wants to see concrete commitment from China as a result from the talks.
“What I really hope is China agrees to it,” Dodd said, “I really hope they agree to their emissions cuttings … I hope it actually enacts it and doesn’t lie.”
Freeman said she has not always been passionate about climate change but has a strong opinion on it now.
“It’s November 30th and I’m sweating my ass off,” Freeman said. “It’s the only planet that we have. I grew up not really understanding what is going on in the world like most people. This is my only home and it’s our ultimate provider and we should give back and return we shouldn’t just take from it and pretend everything is OK.”
The students protested by holding multiple climate change signs, and chanting several phrases such as: “What do we want? Climate Justice. When do we want it? Now,” “Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk,” and “Students united, will never be divided.”
The RSO and others interested in climate policy change who wished to participate in the manifestation gathered in the Veterans Pavilion, where music was playing and information on climate change was laid out.
Petition forms to request constitutional amendments were also available.