Roughly 200 students from universities across Massachusetts walked out of class on Monday before rallying in front of the State House to demand that the governor commit to a "clean energy future."
Organized by the group Students for a Just and Stable Future, the protest was called to draw attention to a proposed ban on all new fossil fuel development projects, including natural gas infrastructure. The group is asking Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to fulfill the pledge made in passing the Global Warming Solutions Act and commit to a "clean energy future" with investment in wind and solar projects.
"We left class! We left school! To tell Deval: ban fossil fuels!" chanted the students, who came from over 20 schools, including Harvard, Amherst College, Suffolk University, Brandeis University and Tufts, in addition to a small group from local high schools.
Among the speakers at the rally was climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who told the crowd, "Real leadership means taking the kind of action demanded by science." If Patrick wants "youth on his side," DeChristopher added, he has to do "what the crisis demands."
The rally was called on the same day that the UN climate panel released their comprehensive report on the state of climate change, which warned that the "worst" effects have yet to come.
"Climate change affects low-income populations, the developing world, and youth the most," write the student protest organizers. "In other words, the greatest burden of the climate problem has landed on the backs of those who haven’t caused it, have the least leverage and resources to deal with its harms, and have the least amount of power to advocate for solutions."
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Following the rally, a contingent delivered a letter to the governor's office requesting a meeting to discuss the proposed ban. Reportedly, the governor agreed, which the group celebrated as a victory. Students say the meeting will occur sometime in the next two weeks. "Stay tuned...," they tweeted.
— Eli Gerzon (@eligerzon) March 31, 2014
— Divest WPI (@divestWPI) March 31, 2014