Colorado students fight global warming, join UN COP26 summit in Scotland


Colorado State University student Kaydee Barker travels by bus or bicycle, buys only used clothes, and eats local vegetarian dishes, aligning her actions with efforts to contain global warming.

She is among students and researchers from Colorado universities who traveled to Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit this week. At home, they push campus administrators to create climate-friendly lifestyles. And, at this 12-day summit, Barker and others are sharing ideas with thousands of young participants from around the world to achieve the 2015 Paris Agreement goals that would limit global warming to 2.7 to 3, 6 degrees (Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The COP26 summit “is definitely the breeding ground for ideas and hopefully optimism,” said Barker, 30, who grew up in Steamboat Springs and studies ecosystem science with a focus on soil. .

A growing “youth-led climate action army” seems “unstoppable,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday at the summit, where he warned against the “points of view” approach. no return “leading to uncontrollable heating.

Colorado students “put pressure on our administrators to get the campus to do the right things,” said Gillian Bowser, a professor of ecosystem science at CSU, who leads a group of six students in Glasgow. “It’s a group that wants to roll up their sleeves and dive. Their time for complaining is over. Their time for being depressed is over. They want to do something.

CSU students convinced school officials to install more bike lanes on the Fort Collins campus, offer more meatless meals, improve waste recycling and launch an electric shuttle, Bowser said. Students also requested more climate related courses.

The “ecological mourning” that has crippled students in recent years has given way to a greater emphasis on practical actions to limit warming, said Max Boykoff, director of environmental studies at CU. “We have gone through disillusion collectively,” he said. “We think now: let’s go. How can we adapt? How can we reduce our emissions?

Boykoff planned to monitor the summit from Boulder, but a dozen students, staff and researchers from the University of Colorado from the labs surrounding the Boulder campus attended.

“If the system is to change… we have to vote with our portfolios,” said Gina Fiorile, 25, CU staff member, program coordinator for the Cooperative Research Institute for Environmental Sciences, in an e- Glasgow mail. Participating students discussed the environmental impacts of beef production and suggested campaigns to “eat more plants and less meat so that demand drops,” she said.

CU students since the 1970s have demanded robust retraining. A few years ago, students occupied the CU Chancellor’s office, demanding the divestment of CU Foundation funds from fossil fuel companies. This year, a school survey of students found that 94% came to campus in part because of opportunities to tackle global warming, said Heidi VanGenderen, CU-Boulder sustainability manager.

Students are increasingly using e-bikes and electric scooters as alternatives to driving, VanGenderen said. They recently persuaded authorities to buy four electric shuttles and helped draft a new campus energy plan that required increased conservation.

At Fort Lewis College in Durango, students have moved from street protests to attending city council meetings where they urge leaders to take climate action, said Kathleen Hilimire, professor in the Department of the Environment and the sustainability of the school. Students recently started an “e-bike library” where they can browse e-bikes for a semester, and they collect food waste from mess halls to compost in campus gardens.

Being at the top provides insight into how change can happen, said Jacob Genuise, a 22-year-old CSU graduate student, who studies international climate agreements and holds an undergraduate degree in environmental science. atmosphere.

“It can be very difficult to be optimistic. There are days when we look at science reports and we’re like, ‘Uh, how are we going to fix this? ”, Said Genuise. “But a lot of us are channeling that into action. This is the best way for us to address our concerns about climate change.

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