In anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference scheduled to begin this November in Paris, University students gathered on the Diag on Friday to draw attention to climate change.
The rally was sponsored by the University’s chapter of Know Tomorrow, a student-led campaign launched by Cool Globes, a national nonprofit organization working to raise awareness and spur action on climate change.
Members of Know Tomorrow held a banner urging students to stand on the “right side of history.” The banner included information about recent gains in the climate change movement, including President Barack Obama’s August announcement of the Clean Power Plan, which set new regulations for reducing carbon emissions from power plants.
LSA junior Samantha Ginsburg, president of the University’s chapter of Know Tomorrow, said she hoped the rally would help amplify and synchronize youth voices calling for action on climate change.
“We know what tomorrow looks like,” Ginsburg said. “The science is clear — there is no more debate. We want action because we know what our future looks like.”
Know Tomorrow chapters at 60 campuses across the country also held similar climate rallies Friday as part of the national day of action. Some events had high profile speakers such as Sen. Edward Markey at Harvard University and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at the University of Southern California.
Don Scavia, a Graham Family Professor of Sustainability and director of the University’s Graham Sustainability Institute, spoke at the rally on campus. Scavia urged students to combat climate change, at the personal and institutional levels.
“There are lots of things you can do as individuals to reduce your own consumption,” Scavia said. “Those individual actions, though, won’t be enough — we need policy changes at the local, state and federal government levels.”
The Michigan Marching Band and Jugglers on Campus, a student organization, both performed at the event. Planet Blue and the Divest and Invest campaign also had tables distributing information.
Engineering senior RJ Nakkula said students should join the University in its efforts to combat climate change.
“The University is making steps in the right direction, but everyone needs to do their share,” Nakkula said. “It’s not just the University’s part, it comes down to students, too.”
LSA freshman Noah Lowenstein, a member of Know Tomorrow, said the climate rally is an important step toward uniting millennials around climate change goals.
“We are the millennials,” Lowenstein said. “We are the ones who will be living on this Earth far beyond the policy makers today.”