Sustainability and Climate Justice
BSAC began work around climate and environmental justice after students were moved and angered by the disproportionate impact climate change has, and will have, on young people, people of color, and low-income communities. In 2013, BSAC headed to Washington DC to rally in support of the Reject and Protect movement, urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. The following summer, BSAC students worked as part of a Climate Team, then joined 400,000 people in New York City for the People’s Climate March- the largest demonstration calling for climate solutions in history. Energized by the massive action, BSAC spread the word about why combating climate change is a major priority in their lives.
Educating Climate Leaders of the Future
We feel that students deserve to fully understand how climate climate change works and the many distinct ways it affects people. This belief inspired us to partner with BPS science teachers on a climate curriculum that not only explains to students the science behind climate change, but also address social justice impacts it has on people and communities.
Youth United for Animals and the Planet (YUAP) is an organization founded and run by Adam Sazama, a student at Boston Latin School. YUAP hopes to teach people about climate change through the lens of animal conservation. Adam spends time training other students on how to present about this topic. His goal is to spread awareness of the toll climate change takes on animals and humans to as many people as possible.
Interactive Energy Dashboards
We believe that students should be involved in and learn from the sustainability strides taken by the city and school district. In order to accomplish this, BSAC introduced the idea of having interactive dashboard at all the schools who either use solar power currently or will soon use solar power. These dashboards would allow students to learn how solar power works and see how much energy and money the school is saving. By going “full circle” with our climate efforts, we are truly empowering a future generation of leaders.
In 2015, Mayor Walsh co-sponsored a resolution to get climate change education into all Boston public schools in order to “teach students about the effects of climate change and give students the resources to create solutions to tackle this national and global crisis." In accordance with the Mayor’s resolution, BSAC partnered with Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), an organization that brings free climate change assemblies to high schools. These presentations explain the science and impact of climate change in a way that puts young people at the center of the issue. They demonstrate to students how their lives both affect and are affected by climate change.
Addressing Climate Challenges
BSAC is saying NO to dirty energy. Partnering with Mothers Out Front, BSAC works with city and state lawmakers to demand greater accountability from gas companies for unrepaired gas leaks. The pipes that carry gas are often over 100 years old. They break and leak gas and fumes that are toxic for people and the climate. The cost of the wasted gas is then passed onto consumers. BSAC has participated in two hearings on the subject and has visited with multiple legislators to move this issue and proposed legislation forward.
On November 18th, 2014 BSAC helped host a youth-led City Council Hearing on fossil fuel divestment which led to the passing of a resolution calling for the state and city to divest their pension funds from fossil fuel companies that have profited off of climate change. BSAC is continuing to push for city and state divestment, while also calling on the city to expand its use of renewable energy.
Diet & Climate Change
One of the ways BSAC addresses climate change is by supporting BPS's Meatless Mondays. BSAC members and staff work to highlight food justice issues because global food production is responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and much of that is due to the meat and dairy industry.
Did you know?... The biggest (and easiest) way you can help lessen the impact of climate change is to change your diet! Check out Elias' Stand - a documentary short on ethical and environmentally friendly food consumption!
Embracing Clean Energy Solutions
Community Choice Energy (CCE)
In partnership with other Boston-based environmental activist groups, BSAC helped push for the implementation of Community Choice Energy (CCE), or the ability for cities to purchase renewable energy affordably in bulk. This makes it possible to increase our use of renewable energy by 5%-10% without significantly impacting energy costs for consumers. Check out our CCE editorial for all the reasons why Boston needs CCE.
The Climate Action Plan
BSAC is actively involved in planning for a green and sustainable future. In 2014 BSAC students were asked to help create and advise on Mayor Walsh’s Climate Action Plan for the city. This Climate Action Plan is a guideline to Boston's future sustainability goals. Here, BSAC was instrumental in advocating for climate education goals and sustainable building goals for schools and intends to hold the city accountable to its pledge to put solar panels on school roofs.
The Facilities Master Plan and Retrofitting
More recently, BSAC was asked to sit on Superintendent Chang’s Educational and Facilities Master Plan. This 10 year plan looks to retrofit BPS buildings in order to best utilize the newest learning technology and foster the best teaching practices. We believe that this is the perfect opportunity to push for the use of sustainable practices in order to move BPS in an environmentally friendly future.
Energy Saving Competitions
There are ways to make a difference now. BSAC, in conjunction with the BPS Sustainability Department, promotes an annual energy saving competition in Boston’s public high schools. During this competition, schools try to save energy by turning off lights, unplugging electrical devices, and monitoring heat and AC. Schools are able to see which practices are most efficient by participating in an energy audit. The schools are then able to keep half of the money they saved by saving energy. One of the most effective strategies during the competition is implementing “Power-Down Fridays.” This involves teams of students walking through their schools at the end of every Friday to ensure all electronics, lights, and heat/AC were turned off. This prevents tremendous amounts of energy from being wasted over the weekend.