Climate action forum encourages student voices


Photo Courtesy of NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

Global temperature anomalies for 2015 compared to the 1951–1980 baseline. 2015 was the warmest year in the NASA/NOAA temperature record, which starts in 1880.

RSOs and students with environmental interests are gathering to discuss sustainability concerns in preparation for the University updating its sustainability goals for the next five years.

The Student Climate Action Forum will take place on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. in the National Soybean Research Center where students will collaborate and learn about current sustainability efforts, rank priorities and brainstorm new climate solutions.

Micah Kenfield, sustainability programs coordinator at the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment, has anticipated some concerns that would be voiced at the forum.

“So far, some of the biggest items we’ve heard including pushing for carbon neutrality even sooner than 2050, reducing our use of fossil fuels, making our buildings even more sustainable than they already are, and reducing the food waste we send to the landfill,” Kenfield said in an email. “We’re looking forward to hearing more from students on these issues and many others.”

Kenfield said the best way to get people’s opinions is to make sure everyone feels like they are a part of the process, including students who hadn’t been previously passionate about the environment

Over 48,000 students make up the U of I student body and each one has a part to play in building a more sustainable future for our campus and our world,” Kenfield said. “As the U of I prepares to draft its next five-year plan for campus sustainability, we want to make sure the voices we hear are representative of the entire student body.”

Kenfield said the forum is open to the whole student body but is expecting representatives from environmental RSOs affiliated with the Student Sustainability Leadership Council and hopes all students feel comfortable attending and contributing to our sustainable vision.

“We want to make sure that the goals and objectives we propose for the next five years of campus sustainability accurately reflects the passion and vision of the student body and the feedback we get from this forum is an invaluable part of that,” Kenfield said.

Kenfield said as the Student Climate Action Forum prepares a new five-year plan for sustainable efforts from 2020-25, it is prioritizing the student voice.

“From my perspective, the biggest sustainability issue of all is ensuring that every member of the campus community students, faculty, staff, and beyond is a part of our greener tomorrow,” Kenfield said. “This forum is one important step in making that happen.”

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