A 20 minute documentary about our org

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Our planetary predicament

“Every decade is consequential in its own way, but the twenty-twenties will be consequential in a more or less permanent way. Global C02 emissions are now so high – in 2019, they hit a new record of 43 billion metric tons – that ten more years of the same will be nothing short of cataclysmic. Unless emissions are reduced, and radically, a rise of two degrees C (3.6 F) will be pretty much unavoidable by 2030. This will make the demise of the world’s coral reefs, the inundation of most low-lying island nations, incessant heat waves and fires and misery for millions – perhaps billions – of people unavoidable” – Elizabeth Kolbert, 2020.

Elisabeth Kolbert says it very well. We live in the time of an escalating climate crisis. According to the UN IPCC (2018) consensus of scientists, ratified by governments, emissions must be reduced about 50% by 2030 (from 2010 levels) to have a decent change of limiting heating to more manageable levels. Mostly, however, governments are still failing to act. We cannot wait for them, we need our institutions to lead the way. For us, that means the University of California (UC), which is one of the biggest employers in what is effectively the 5th biggest economy in the world.

UC’s current plan is inadequate.

UC, which declared a climate emergency, signed by 10 chancellors, has a plan for its emissions called “carbon neutrality by 2025“. Unfortunately this is woefully inadequate. Problems include a lack of accountability, a reliance on both dubious offset mechanisms and biogas (about which experts have misgivings), and a very delayed reckoning with emissions from aviation and transportation (deferred to 2050), see here.

Instead, what is needed is decarbonization (i.e. genuine emissions reductions). This must be done by setting specific goals and creating accountability mechanisms. This is especially pertinent at UCSD which is currently one of the biggest emitters (> 300,000 tonnes per year of C02) within the 10-campus UC system.

Apart from not yet implementing serious emissions reductions, UC San Diego is also not yet taking seriously its responsibility to teach students about the climate crisis and about climate justice. Climate justice is a key concept in our organizing: it refers to the fact that those who have done the least to incur the problem historically, and currently, especially people of color, will bear the brunt of climate change.

UC San Diego and the wider UC system also still needs to make good on its claim to have gone “Fossil Free” in its investments (we need full transparency), and it must change the way it uses banking and insurance systems that finance the fossil fuel industry.

Enter the Green New Deal at UCSD

The Green New Deal at UCSD is a climate action group that arose to meet these very challenges. It started with the UCSD Climate Crisis March on 27th September 2019 – which was part of the week of global climate action, in which over 7 million participated. 

Our Mission Statement

The Green New Deal at UCSD is a democratically organized, grassroots collective of students, trainees, staff, union members, faculty, alumni, and retirees affiliated with our university. We campaign for concrete actions that UC San Diego and the UC system must take to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice. We stand in solidarity with frontline communities bearing the brunt of global heating, and demand that UC San Diego and the UC system reorient their vast financial, educational, research, and labor power to:

  1. proactively address the burdens of environmental racism within our communities;
  2. prepare students for current and future climate disruption; 
  3. transition to using fossil-fuel free, renewable energy to power our university via campus electrification; 
  4. cut ties with the fossil fuel industry and its financial enablers for investments, banking and research funding.

Summary: The Green New Deal at UCSD is a grassroots collective campaigning for UC San Diego and the UC system to take concrete actions to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice through a just transition to a fossil-free UC.