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Culture > News

UMD Students Virtually Rally for Climate Solutions

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

University of Maryland students asked for stronger carbon regulations during the Student Government Association and Maryland Student Climate Action Coalition’s climate solutions rally as the Maryland General Assembly is considering climate change legislation.

MSCAC and SGA members hosted a slew of virtual workshops to help students get involved in climate activism. Workshops ranging from legislative strategy to testimony writing aim to engage students in the environmental justice movement across Maryland. 

MSCAC’s own bill, the Future Act, is being introduced in the Maryland General Assembly. The bill would require public higher education institutions in Maryland to be carbon neutral by 2035. 

“The essence of the bill really has to do with carbon neutrality deadlines for schools,” MSCAC campaign coordinator and junior chemical engineering major Reese Barrett said. “So we want our universities to really have a cap on when they’ll be able to emit.”

MSCAC’s goals for the bill focus on three large components: emissions, equity and education. Aside from creating standards for carbon emissions, the bill includes infrastructure changes that would help the schools reach decarbonizing deadlines. 

The bill aims to reduce public universities’ carbon footprint, while acknowledging environmental inequity across the state. The Future Act will establish a scholarship for students coming from areas that have been heavily impacted by climate change and environmental inequity. Universities will contribute to these scholarship funds when their carbon emissions exceed the standards laid out in the bill. 

“It’s really important that our schools in the state take responsibility for the harm that they’ve caused to a lot of different communities,” Barrett said. “Especially communities that are already generally facing environmental injustices.”

Delegate Jared Solomon introduced the Future Act in the Maryland General Assembly on January 29. Further hearings are planned for early March.

“[The Future Act] is also a signal to the rest of the country and really the rest of the world that Maryland and our university system should be a beacon for sustainability for environmental stewardship,” Solomon said. 

Students also rallied for the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, a bill that aims to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by creating new energy efficiency and electrification requirements for buildings.  

“We have to get across the message to my colleagues that there is no other choice but to go forward,” Senator Paul Pinsky, the sponsor of the bill, said to the students. “We don’t want to make where people can pick and choose or dance or hide on this issue.” 

During the rally speakers expressed the urgency of the climate crisis, noting that the climate crisis will have more drastic effects for younger generations. 

“It’s imperative that the adults in the room make real investments to ensure we have a habitable planet,” Barrett said. “And I cannot explain how disappointing and tragic it is that we even have to be here begging them to care. However, we have no choice; it is truly our future on the line.”

Lucy Hubbard

Maryland '24

Senior at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism