Several University of Wisconsin student organizations focused on the environment joined other Big Ten schools in creating a climate coalition in honor of last Friday’s Earth Day.
The coalition demands that UW increase transparency regarding its spending records, disengage from the fossil fuel industry in three to five years and reinvest in sustainability, according to NU’s Instagram Divest.
According to a statement from Wisconsin Student Climate Action Coalition member Lily Healing, students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign initiated a meeting to revive the Top 10 collaboration in early April this year.
“There were more than 21 students who attended with at least 8 of the 10 Big schools represented and each campus had the opportunity to share their respective successes, struggles, and goals for climate action,” Healing said. “Most [of] we appear to be dealing with similar issues, including bureaucratic barriers to divestment and climate action plans lacking accountability and urgency, which really highlight the need for cross-school collaboration.”
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The Coalition also urges Enbridge, the company responsible for the controversy Row 5 pipeline, to stop pursuing pipeline construction and to honor agreements with the First Indigenous Nations to be affected, the post said. The Coalition called on Governor Evers to declare a climate emergency in Wisconsin.
According to Healing, the top 10 schools have worked together in the past, but previous collaborations were relatively focused on one issue and short-lived.
“10 major schools worked together in 2020 to pass a resolution calling on 10 Great Universities to commit to climate-conscious investments, as well as one in 2019 for schools to declare a climate emergency,” Healing said. “While we can commend that past moment of unity, it doesn’t create a movement.”
The UW Office of Sustainability has not been approached by the Big Ten climate coalition, but is more than willing to collaborate, Office of Sustainability communications director Nathan Jandl said in an emailed statement to The Badger Herald.
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“We are always happy to engage with students who drive sustainability efforts on campus and in the wider world,” said Jandl.
The Coalition calls on UW students and the greater Madison community to stand with those already participating across the state “Fourth of March Towards Earth Day” movement, the post said.
Healing said the results from the first meeting were very positive. The school has set up working groups to meet separately on specific issues such as divestment, climate action plans and sustainability education.
“This will allow us to tackle more problems at once and put some fire under the pants of the Chancellors of the Top 10 Universities by questioning their competitiveness at the sustainability level,” Healing said. “The students I met at the most recent Top 10 meeting all seemed committed to long-term collaboration and I am excited to see the impact of our collective action.”