This article has been updated to include additional information on the lawsuit against UNC alleging that the University violated the Clean Air Act.
Community and student environmental activists met Friday in the Pit to protest the University's coal plant — the Cogeneration Facility — demanding that UNC leadership transition away from unsustainable energy sources.
Organized by UNC first-years Margot Francini, Ember Penney and Sarah Zhang, the “NO COAL UNC!” demonstration was part of Fridays For Future, a global climate strike movement.
Francini, a public policy and environmental health sciences double major, said hundreds of other climate strikes happened the same day around the globe.
The demonstration featured three speakers who each addressed different issues surrounding the environment and climate change.
Hongbin Gu, a Chapel Hill town council member and faculty member in the UNC School of Medicine, said in her speech that it is unacceptable that UNC has delayed shutting down its coal plant because the climate crisis is already here. Gu is currently a candidate for Chapel Hill's mayor.
“It’s not a hypothesis, it’s not a prediction," Gu said. "It’s going on right now."
In an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, Gu said the council wants to hear more from Chapel Hill’s younger population because they are the voice of the future.
“Our government, lots of times, is not the leader," she said. "The government is following the public. So we need the young people to bring the new energy and tell politicians that they care about our planet, their interest aligns and actually depends on the government to take urgent actions now.”