Today was my fifth day at The New York Times Climate Hub. I was riveted by talks on a variety of topics, including oil and power, market innovation, climate journalism, climate justice, and more. With such a broad array of sectors covered, I want to focus on oil and fossil fuels in the market, and climate justice, two issues that are prominent in the United States today.

Oil, Money and Power: How Competition Could Create a New World Order related heavily to the United States as a country that has been wrestling with introducing more clean energy to our grids while being heavily reliant on oil, natural gas, and coal. A portion of this talk was dedicated to debating whether the consumers or companies should be more responsible for driving a shift from carbon-heavy energy sources to renewables, a conversation I have had on campus among friends and in my economics and policy studies courses. On one hand, if consumers stop purchasing an item (such as opting for a renewable energy company over oil), then the corporation will need to shift its business practices. However, if the company only offers oil and that is the most or only accessible option, then consumers will be forced to buy it.

This dichotomy leaves both the producer and a consumer in a standoff, waiting for the other to make the first move. It was agreed in today’s session that letting the markets decide is not working, and despite disagreement among the panelists, they did all concur that we need a carbon tax and government incentives.

I am involved in lobbying for a climate tax with Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonprofit organization, and serve as liaison between CCL and my home district (Congressman Nadler, NY10). I first was introduced to this group by Heath Hitchcock, a guitar and ukulele instructor at Lafayette, who is involved in our local Lehigh Valley chapter. He approached me after the monthly sustainability community meeting and connected me to the organization. Ongoing outreach and connection from involved Lafayette faculty and staff to interested students is the reason I am reporting from Glasgow today, and for many of the opportunities in my chosen fields that I have applied for or received.

The push for climate policy to influence the economy is important and is an issue that is already being addressed on campus by the student organization Lafayette Sunrise Movement. Coincidentally, Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, spoke on the Glasgow panel Climate Justice Means Racial Justice, a powerful session on the necessity for racial equity and how we cannot have an environmentally conscious world without dismantling systemically racist systems. People of color face the brunt of climate change and are forced to deal with the consequences of our warming planet more than many others.

David Lammy, Member of Parliament, U.K., importantly explained how “the climate emergency is colonialism’s natural conclusion. At the heart of colonialism was an extractive economy. At the heart of colonialism was fossil fuels.”

Climate justice and racial justice are intrinsically linked, and I look forward to building stronger bonds between the sustainability committee and the equity and inclusion committee on student government. I plan to bring what I have learned from today’s talks back to Lafayette and will strive to build stronger connections between different movements on campus, between students fighting systemic racism such as the Dear Lafayette Coalition, and those pushing for sustainability. The main takeaway from today is that awareness can foster action and realized connections between climate and racial justice on campus will hopefully lead to a stronger, more united community.

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