On Friday, July 1, Tech’s Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) jointly submitted a statement to the Georgia Public Service Commission advocating for increased clean energy investment with a coalition with 13 other organizations of sustainable development led by undergraduate students in the state of Georgia. .
The coalition submitted the joint statement in hopes of influencing environmental action at national and local levels and involving students at their respective educational institutions in the process.
“Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS) is a student-run organization at Georgia Tech focused on promoting sustainable initiatives on campus and in our local communities. We work to educate students about environmental issues and work with GT students and administration to implement environmentally responsible policies and practices,” said Mark Putman, fourth-year BME and vice president of S.O.S.
The joint group of students worked hard to spread their message, and maintaining communication was key to drawing attention to national and local sustainability laws and regulations.
“As a collective group of student leaders, we worked together to reach as many students as possible. In the writing process, each leader was tasked with keeping students at their respective universities up to date. We have simultaneously created social media posts that will run on all organizations’ platforms, showcasing our collective efforts for a more sustainable energy future and providing links for the official public statement,” said student Anna Møller. in fourth-year psychology at the University of North Georgia (UNG) and president of the Sustainability Club of North Georgia.
Although the joint statement received significant input from college-affiliated clubs, student organizations outside of the college environment also contributed immensely to the project. The Georgian chapter of Voters for Tomorrow, for example, was one of the signatories to the statement.
“Voters of Tomorrow is a student-led organization that strives to elect candidates who uphold the values of Gen Z. We know best how to bring our own generation to the polls,” said graduate student Vikas Madhav Nagarajan from the PUBP to the Institute and a member of Voters of Tomorrow.
The organization was overwhelmingly supportive of the declaration, with Nagarajan saying, “Our declaration outlines a future for our state towards sustainability. It focuses on energy efficiency and the way forward to make Georgia a state less dependent on fossil fuels and more powered by renewable energy. He also urges the Civil Service Commission to stand up for the Georgian people.
With the recent Supreme Court decision in West Virginia vs. EPA Narrowing the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to regulate carbon emissions, the joint student group sees state and local governments as increasingly important in the next steps of the fight against climate change.
“Given the way the court ruled, it is important that local authorities step up and fight for their citizens. It is the duty of local government to mitigate public health emergencies and climate risks,” Nagarajan said. “It is their job to make sure they can pressure the state to set emission standards given the recent SCOTUS decision and implement local laws and enforce quality standards for the air, water and soil for their jurisdiction.”
Putman echoed Nagarajan’s sentiment saying, “we must pursue climate action at all levels, at every opportunity. This not only increases our chances of success, but further underscores to the rest of our generation how important the civic process is to our lives and our future.
There are a multitude of sustainable tools and systems that state and local governments can support and invest in.
“State legislatures set power plant regulations and provide incentives for the transition to clean energy and green transportation,” Putnam said. “Local governments are setting standards for energy-efficient housing, [provide] infrastructure for green transport (public transport, walking/cycling, electric vehicles) [electric vehicles]) and manage waste management.
The effects of the declaration will be known in full on July 21, when the Public Service Commission releases its final energy plan. Until then, the coalition urges students, both at the Institute and across the state, to do whatever they can to help.
Nagarajan notes that ultimately the best way to contribute to their cause is to “… vote in every election. Vote so we can live in a world that respects your voice and where you can breathe, powered by sustainable energy sources and fighting climate change.