In an effort to empower and inform students about advocating for science-based and equitable climate policy solutions, Our Climate hosted its “Climate Policy, Advocacy and Storytelling Workshop” on Wednesday night.
Approximately 25 people gathered in the University Union to hear from Our Climate, a national organization that promotes environmental advocacy and carbon pricing. The event included information on state and federal policies that address climate change. Natalia Romanzo, a student representative for Our Climate and a senior majoring in environmental studies, said the organization planned the workshop in preparation for Lobby Day on April 9 in Albany, as well as to inform students about climate legislation.
“We just want students who attend to learn about how to effectively advocate for their beliefs and feel empowered to take action against climate change,” Romanzo said.
The workshop focused on two different pieces of legislation the group is advocating for in New York: the Climate and Community Protection Act and the Climate and Community Investment Act.
According to Gabriel Bongiorno, a student fellow for Our Climate and a sophomore double-majoring in economics and environmental studies, the purpose of the Climate and Community Protection Act is to cut greenhouse gas pollution, protect communities and workers, ensure job growth in the new energy economy and require state government decisions to align with climate and equity policies. The act would also ensure a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 in New York state.
Bongiorno said the Climate and Community Investment Act would potentially generate revenue by putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The collected revenue would be used to reinvest in communities, with the money going into several different energy-related funds.
Students leading the workshop helped attendees learn how to advocate for change by having them fill out an “elevator speech” worksheet, which provides a base for students to share their personal stories about how these issues affect them when speaking to elected officials. Members also passed around an outline and template for writing letters to lawmakers.
Allison Romer, the upstate New York organizer for Our Climate and a senior double-majoring in political science and environmental studies, said it is important to learn how to meet and interact with elected officials.
“I think it’s important because it raises attention to the issues of climate change and how it affects communities and the state as a whole, but most importantly, our future,” Romer said. “It also teaches members of the community how to interact with elected officials and hopefully helps them to realize that speaking to these officials is something they can do that has power over their future.”
Attendees were encouraged to share their letters and thoughts pertaining to the topics discussed in the workshop. Dean Mattschull, a freshman majoring in history, said he was excited to learn that there are others who are as passionate as he is about climate change.
“It’s definitely nice to know there are other people who are thinking about these issues and are actually doing something to push these bills forward,” Mattschull said.
Unlike Mattschull, Conor Winne, a junior double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law and political science, is new to the discussion of climate change but said he learned more about the topic after coming to the workshop.
“I learned a lot about things that I never thought affected me much until now,” Winne said. “I’m really glad I came because now I can encourage others to talk about climate change policies.”