BSG meeting addresses 2030 climate action plan
November 22, 2019
Keisha Payson from the Office of Sustainability joined the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) meeting Wednesday night to hear feedback and suggestions for what BSG and other students would like to see included in the College’s next climate action plan.
“[We] are thinking about how Bowdoin can be good stewards [and] citizens of the common good and really address our own needs,” Payson said.
In 2008, then-President Barry Mills signed Bowdoin onto a climate commitment along with nearly 650 other colleges and universities to become carbon neutral by 2020. After reaching that goal in 2018, the Office of Sustainability has put an emphasis on developing a new climate action plan for 2030 that reimagines the definition of sustainability.
“We’ve focused on a lot of different issues … mostly centered on the environment: looking at materials and greenhouse gas emissions but also trying to connect that back to how it relates to people,” Payson said.
Payson asked BSG members to think about the definition of sustainability and ways it can be applied to the climate action plan.
“Some of the things we suggest we might already be doing, but there might be something new that comes out that we haven’t thought of before,” said Payson.
Many BSG members brainstormed ideas that could be implemented into the climate action plan—some encouraged immediate action that does not require college permission, such as readjusting the ride share board.
Curriculum Implementation Committee Representative Joseph Hilleary ’20 proposed implementing room-based thermostat control due to the over exhaustion of heat production that comes with the colder weather.
“I was thinking about heating since that’s one of our major sources of emissions,” said Hilleary. “A large number of classrooms and residence halls are sweltering, very warm in the winter.“
Developmental Representative to Academic Affairs Thomas Daley ’22 suggested a change in the distribution requirements that would encourage student awareness on the state of the climate.
“We also thought about the idea of environmental course distribution requirements,” said Daley. “I took Intro to Environmental Studies last fall because it fit my schedule, even though I’m not going to be an ES major, and it completely changed the way I view the climate crisis.”
Other suggestions for the climate action plan included expanding sustainability education by teaching students what can and cannot be recycled, switching to more hybridized vehicles, considering more efficient lighting on campus, expanding the Yellow Bike Club, increasing censored light motors and encouraging public transportation usage by providing vouchers for the Metro BREEZ bus and Amtrak.
“This is something we think about: how do we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” said Payson.
The assembly later entered a closed-door executive session to address indigenous land acknowledgements.
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I’m not sure how Bowdoin can consider itself “climate neutral” when it continues to benefit from fossil fuel extraction through its endowment.