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Graduate and Professional Student Government celebrates first annual Climate Action Day

Graduate student Jimmy Doegerl wears a cardboard list of students' climate demands at Climate Action Day in the pit on Tuesday, April 13, 2023.

Last Thursday, colorful presentations and games were scattered across the Pit, educating students about sustainability and demanding climate action from the University. 

Students visit the booths at Climate Action Day in the pit on Tuesday, April 13, 2023.

These events were all part of the Graduate and Professional Student Government’s (GPSG) Climate Crisis Committee's first Climate Action Day

Representatives from Orange County, Carolina Dining Services, Edible Campus UNC and more came together to discuss how students can lead greener lives. The presentations included topics like food and fashion sustainability, as well as Orange County’s upcoming climate action plan

The plan will focus on what the county needs to prioritize to address climate change. It covers sectors such as transportation, green energy and climate justice. Students at Climate Action Day could brainstorm strategies with colorful drawings. 

Sophomore Nea Strawn educates students about recycling during Climate Action Day in the pit on Tuesday, April 13, 2023.

Bladen Currier, an environmental studies major and a sustainability programs intern with Orange County, said the county values student opinion and wants to include policies in the plan that matters to students. 

“(Students) come from so many different backgrounds," she said. "There’s so many things that people here have to say that people in the government might not have thought of. There’s so much knowledge here." 

Climate Action Day also featured a petition that urged UNC to increase initiatives regarding sustainability and climate change. Students signed the petition to encourage the University to transition away from fossil fuels, continue sustainable energy projects and shift investments toward renewables. 

Maya Powell, graduate student and member of the GPSG, said though UNC claims they are climate conscious, she does not believe that they follow up on their promises of sustainable practices.

She said students who signed the petition were most surprised to learn that UNC still partially operates with energy generated by a coal plant on Cameron Avenue. 

Throughout last week, the GPSG advertised the day by putting signs all over campus regarding UNC's sustainability statistics and policies, with comparisons to other universities. Powell said that the GPSG received a call from the University regarding these signs. 

“They didn’t really like them,” she said. 

UNC Media Relations did not respond to comment regarding this call by the time of publication. 

Climate Action Day received a lot of attention and support from members of the campus community who want to know more about sustainability and the environment. 

Victoria Hill, sustainability manager for Carolina Dining Services, said she enjoys sharing her passion with students through education.

"I've talked to a lot of people," she said. "Almost a nonstop stream of them. It's been really fun to teach people about the different packaging and everything we do."

Those who ran the informational tables at the event engaged in conversations with students eager to make a difference, Hill said. The climate action petition collected about 450 signatures. 

Students visit the booths at Climate Action Day in the pit on Tuesday, April 13, 2023.

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“(The event) really shows how many people out there care," Currier said. It’s really good for educating people and bringing people in so more people can learn about it and take action."

The event concluded with screenings of “Pushed Up the Mountain” and “Into the Weeds,” two documentaries about the high-stakes of continuing to employ unsustainable practices on humans and the environment. Powell said those who attended had meaningful discussions with Julia Haslett, UNC professor and creator of “Pushed Up the Mountain.” 

The Climate Crisis Committee described Climate Action Day as a “great success” and aims to host more in the future. 

“We’re climate conscious,” Powell said. “We’re trying to prioritize that for the University.”


Emily Chambliss

Emily Chambliss is a 2023-24 assistant copy editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a staffer on the copy and university desks. Emily is a sophomore pursuing a major in journalism with a minor in philosophy, politics and economics.