Students rally for a Fossil Fuel Free UConn 

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On Nov. 4, an ‘Ecountability Rally’ took place on the University of Connecticut’s Student Union Lawn to provide transparency and raise awareness about environmental issues. Numerous organizations including EcoHusky, Environmental Justice Front, Outing Club, Clean Energy Society, Ecoposium, Sunrise CT, UConn Democrats, UNCHAIN and more teamed up to run this event. 

UConn students, faculty and community members spoke about the urgency of climate change and plan for UConn to become carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon zero by 2040.  

The event began with Chase Mack, a seventh-semester environmental science and political science major, speaking about the detrimental effects that climate change has had on the world and the fossil fuel free plan to work with the administration and the UConn community to combat climate change.  

“We are not demanding immediate change, we must wake up and prepare for the future,” Mack said. “It is imperative to build a future and ensure everyone has access to the same resources.” 

About 100 students and community members showed up on Friday afternoon to listen to the speakers and learn more about the climate crisis and what they can do to help. 

Nell Srinath, UConn student and president of UNCHAIN, rallied the audience by chanting “decarbonize and no fossil fuel” while addressing some of the dominant causes of climate change and their hopes for the future. Srinath said the military and industrialization are a parasite on the actions of sustainability at a local, state, national and global level. 

The Fossil Fuel Free UConn is a coalition of undergraduates, graduates and faculty with the mission of transitioning UConn to carbon zero by 2040 and leading the community in climate change solutions and action, according to the organization’s mission statement. 

Brandon Hermoza-Ricci, a UConn alumnus, spoke about the energy transition, the increased usage of wind and solar energy and how that can propel the climate movement to new heights. 

“The action we take now will push UConn to be the problem solvers of the future and I am confident that everyone here will be instrumental to achieving that goal,” Hermoza-Ricci said.  

David Wagner, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor, spoke about how climate change is affecting ecosystems. He explained his research on caterpillars and how although few people pay attention to them, they are an asset to ecosystems. He expressed that the actions of humans are putting them, and many other species, in danger. 

President Maric released a statement on Oct. 24 committing to transition UConn to be carbon neutral by 2030. The speakers articulated their support for the pledge and plan to work to ensure that the administration follows through on its promises.  

Henry Frye, an ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student, acknowledged that, although the university is starting to move in the right direction, students need to support this and do more. He explained that it is not misinformation among students that is stopping them from helping, but rather, it is the feeling of hopelessness since it is a large, global issue. 

“Students don’t know how to act and make a difference,” Frye said, “What is the point of education and research if we can’t transition that into action?”  

Students united with posters and signs with hopes of spreading awareness and transparency about the climate crisis. 

“We must demand more, a radical imagination completely devoid of fossil fuel emissions,” Srinath said. “It is clear we need to take matters into our own hands.” 

Connecticut state representative Greg Haddad and Connecticut state senator Mae Flexer were also in attendance and spoke about the climate crisis at the state government level. 

Overall, the speakers expressed that UConn has the opportunity and potential to take action and urged the audience to spread awareness and take advantage of resources to make a difference.  

“We can do more, we must do more for humanity and nature, and what we do from this day forward is of global significance,” Wagner said.  

Email fossilfuelfreeuconn@gmail.com with questions or follow @fossil_fuel_free_uconn on Instagram to learn more.  

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