Tulane students, community members gather for global climate strike

Sanjali De Silva, Senior Staff Reporter

Today, more than a hundred students and community members gathered in Pocket Park to protest inaction on climate change. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world also partook in a global climate strike.

“The climate strike is a very important global event, and I am glad that Tulane students will be a part of it,” Liz Davey, director of the Office of Sustainability, said.

The strike is part of a global, week-long event aimed at ending the use of fossil fuels and winning climate justice for all. Speakers for the event included representatives from the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, Bucket Brigade, Audubon Society, 350 New Orleans and Extinction Rebellion, as well as student speakers.

“We believe the only way to save the planet is to get organized as workers and students and oppressed folks and fight back through strikes like this,” Senior Nat Clarke said on behalf of the New Orleans Workers Group. ” … The planet does not belong to these billionaires, the planet belongs to us.”

Environmental organization Divest Tulane works throughout the school year to push Tulane’s administration to divest from fossil fuels. Divest member and junior Mackenzie Brown is a part of the team making the event happen. 

“Seeing so many people passionate about climate justice show up and speak about their experiences was amazing, and I’m so proud of everyone who worked to make this happen in such a short period of time. Keep an eye out- there’s more to come in the future!” Brown said.

Divest Tulane is calling on the university to remove any investments from fossil fuels and commit to making its stocks, bonds and funds open and transparent to all students. Taking Tulane’s current goals a step further, Divest demands that the university pledge to become carbon neutral by 2035 per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations. Divest has also called on the state of Louisiana to stop backing the fossil fuel industry and commit to a just transition for fossil fuel workers. Finally, the group calls on Congress to pass a Green New Deal. 

In 2014, Tulane put forward a Climate Action Plan detailing the university’s plans to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce energy consumption. Masters student Hannah Cohen works at the Office of Sustainability and says she hopes to see the climate strike inspire administrators to take action

“They have started to adapt some of these goals, but it’s been slow-going,” Cohen said. “I think greater student outrage would be helpful in making a move forward and visibility of students who want to hold them accountable to those actions they set forth.”

The impact of the strike today does not end with the administration. Brown and Cohen both emphasized the need for students to take part in the fight against climate change on an individual level. 

“I hope it sparks something in every person that sees it and that they think about what climate change and the climate crisis might mean for them … If they are not thinking about it every day then seeing [the strike] can make a difference.” Cohen said.