“Climate Justice is Social Justice”: Mount Holyoke Students Rally for Intersectional Climate Justice

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts — On Friday, October 14, student activists at Mount Holyoke College came together in solidarity for intersectional climate justice.

Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition (CJC) led a rally to demonstrate how climate justice is related to other social justice efforts, such as animal rights and #BlackLivesMatter. Climate change disproportionately affects women, children, and minorities. CJC advocates for fossil fuel divestment at Mount Holyoke in support of these marginalized populations. The fossil fuel industry worked for decades to hide research indicating the harmful effects of climate change.

Students gathered to voice their experiences of and concerns about the widespread impact of climate change. Stella Elwood ‘19, the president of the Mount Holyoke Animal Welfare Association, discussed the connection between animal and environmental rights. Brian Beaty, a member of Divest Amherst, noted that removing fossil fuel investments is not only in support of the environment, but also frontline communities who contribute least to climate change and are most impacted by it. One major current issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline project that would harm Native American land and potentially pollute the Mississippi River in the Midwest.

Raven Geiger ‘17 represented CJC by highlighting the local and global ways in which climate justice is racial, health, and international justice. In Springfield, MA, the asthma rates are nearly double the state average due to pollution from the recently shut down Mount Tom coal plant. The changing climate is causing dengue outbreaks and a sea level rise in Bangladesh that could flood most of the country. Julia Worcester ‘17 read a speech urging the college to divest that CJC delivered at the fall Board of Trustees meeting in early October. The rally also included several chants addressing the moral obligation that Mount Holyoke has to address climate change. Students and other participants were encouraged to sign an action pledge that will be used to rally students if the Mount Holyoke Board of Trustees delays a decision on divestment or votes against divestment.

Mount Holyoke CJC is one of thousands of fossil fuel divestment campaigns across the world. We are part of a movement that is urging universities, faith groups, cities and other communities to help transition to renewable energy. Divestment is a tactic used to stigmatize the unjust practices of the fossil fuel industry. It is the responsibility of institutions such as Mount Holyoke to pave the way for a more sustainable future.

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For more information, please contact Mount Holyoke Climate Justice Coalition on Facebook or through email at mhclimatejustice@gmail.com

Mount Holyoke CJC Divestment Campaign Spring Update: http://www.mhradix.org/science-environment/2016/4/7/never-fear-divestment

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