Mike Groll July 18, 2019 - New York - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivers comments during an offshore wind event in New York. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Amid the aroma of chicken tenders and pizza, Binghamton University students tabled at the Marketplace to ask their peers to fight climate change by making a single phone call.

The students tabling were members of Our Climate, a nonprofit organization advocating for government policies addressing climate change. They, along with BU’s chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), were asking students to call government officials such as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will be appointing officials to the Climate Action Council (CAC).

According to Phariha Rahman, a member of Our Climate and a junior majoring in history, the CAC will be in charge of designing a plan to implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The purpose of the bill, which was approved in July, is to get New York state away from fossil fuels by 2050. Rahman said the council must be composed of responsible people for the bill to work.

“Obviously, you don’t want anyone who is part of the fossil fuel industry,” Rahman said. “But you want people who are dedicated to getting New York state off of fossil fuels and people who are responsible for at-risk communities and also care about indigenous people.”

The students representing Our Climate handed out flyers that direct other students on how to contact New York state legislative leaders, hoping the phone calls will convince them to appoint the people they support. The flyer also contained a phone call script that students can follow.

Rahman said student responses to the tabling were mixed.

“Whenever you’re tabling, there are always people who are annoyed and brush you aside,” Rahman said. “But there are also people who are really interested and want to know what they can do.”

One of the students who was interested in the table’s message, Nancy Huang, a senior double-majoring in physics and music, said she learned about the impact of climate change from the group.

“I heard that this year the winter is getting warmer, but there are a lot more storms,” Huang said. “[Climate change is] something that affects everybody, including students, although I wouldn’t have learned about this unless [Rahman] told me.”

Huang also noted that some might find it hard to contribute since students have other priorities, such as their education.

“I am sure everybody is aware about climate change,” Huang said. ”It’s just a matter of fact of finding a little bit of time to do something about it. Especially when finals are coming up, people aren’t going to be aware about it too much. They’re going to be worrying about their grades.”

According to Rahman, the CLCPA is still in its infancy stages. To have the bill function, Rahman said student support and voices are necessary.

“There’s still a lot up in the air about how the bill actually works, and what people are trying to iron out is how the bill works,” Rahman said. ”It’s so important to show that we care and that we want this bill to work. Otherwise, it will end up being something that ends up on the books, but doesn’t really do anything.”

Editor’s note: Rahman previously contributed to Pipe Dream as a writer in News and Arts & Culture.