State Summit for Climate Action Held at St. Michael’s College

The Vermont State Summit: Climate Initiatives and Resources for Students, was held at St. Michael’s College on Saturday, November 12, 2005. Liz Cunningham, the Campus Coordinator of the Vermont Climate Energy Group (VCEG) organized the event, inviting students from colleges across Vermont and New Hampshire to spend a day learning about global climate change, campus initiatives, state-wide and local initiatives, and networking with students and other campus and community members who are actively working to stop climate change. The event was supported by VCEG, the Climate Campaign, and Efficiency Vermont.

The day began with speakers about the youth climate movement, an introduction to climate change, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and how Vermonters can get involved and make changes to stop global warming. John Isham, a professor at Middlebury College began with an inspiring speech about the wonderful work that the youth movement is already doing, saying that we are unique in being able to hold onto the idealism of youth while coming up with pragmatic, systematic solutions that really work. Drew Hudson of Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) introduced listeners to the affects of climate change happening in Vermont already, and what Vermonters can do through state government to make a difference. Finally, Richard Cowart of the Regulatory Assistance Project introduced us to RGGI, a carbon dioxide production cap and trade program to reduce carbon pollution for New England, New Jersey, and Delaware that Vermont is expected to sign onto in the coming year.

Next, students attended workshops on campus, local, and statewide initiatives, with one track for students new to climate initiatives, and a second track for students experienced in working to reduce climate change, and looking to broaden their impact. These workshops included sessions in using service-learning to initiate change, campus sustainability assessments, getting involved in local initiatives, and student networking. Included in the initiatives discussed was the 10% Challenge, a grassroots program in Burlington to increase energy efficiency, and create solid waste and transportation alternatives. Check it out at www.10percentchallange.org.

Finally, there was an interactive meeting of all attendees on running effective meetings, a new Energy Action program called the Campus Climate Challenge, and a State Climate Network Meeting and Discussion. This was the most exciting part of the day, a chance for many committed students to get together, network, and make some plans for upcoming climate initiatives. These plans include a monthly meeting on the third Sunday of every month, the first being held at Middlebury College on January 22, 2006. If you would like to know more about student climate initiatives or want to get involved, please contact the author at: [email protected]