BOONE — A crowd of people paraded down King Street sidewalks on Sept. 20 in solidarity with a Global Climate Strike simultaneously taking place around the world.
The Global Climate Strike will continue through Sept. 27 in more than 150 countries, according to strike organizers. The organization states that actions need to take place now to stop the burning of fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice in mind.
“The climate crisis is an emergency — we want everyone to start acting like it. We demand climate justice for everyone,” according to Global Climate Strike. “If we don’t act now to transition fairly and swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for all, the injustice of the climate crisis will only get worse.”
The demonstration held in Boone was organized with the help of Climate Action Collaborative — a grassroots effort by Appalachian State University students and faculty aiming to assist the university in achieving climate neutrality at a faster pace. Abbey Huber is a senior at App State and serves as the coordinator of the Climate Action Collaborative’s movement actions team.
Huber said this was the biggest turnout that the organization — known to its members as ClimAct — has seen so far at one of its events. She added that the momentum and energy for the movement is building.
“We wanted to do it in Boone because we want to keep this in Boone’s conversation,” Huber said. “It’s not just large cities that need to be striking; it’s all of our communities.”
Attendees gathered at the Watauga County Public Library then proceeded to march down King Street holding signs, singing songs and chanting. The group stopped outside of the Watauga County Administration Building as well as the Boone Town Hall.
ClimAct’s main goal is a just climate transition. Huber said climate change is urgent, and society needs action on all levels — whether that’s at the university, local or state level.
“This is a justice issue,” Huber said. “It’s urgent to everybody regardless of political party or interests. It’s a universal issue. We are here and we demand action because it’s our future.”
Since the group’s inception, Huber said there have been more conversations taking place at App State that would have been slower without the push from ClimAct. The group presented a climate neutrality proposal to the university’s Student Government Association, and then SGA voted unanimously on March 12 in favor of the university pursuing climate neutrality by the year 2025.
Roughly nine years ago, Appalachian committed to a 2050 goal of climate neutrality, which corresponds with the University of North Carolina system-wide sustainability policy.
During the Sept. 9 Faculty Senate meeting, App State Chancellor Sheri Everts stated that administrators had been meeting with faculty to rewrite a university-wide climate action plan. The ongoing process has included faculty, staff and students as well as members of the community. She said the team had reevaluated institution climate goals and updated the plan that consists of a road map focusing on three primary areas: purchased electricity, transportation and campus heating.
Brian Burke, an assistant professor in the Sustainable Development Department at App State and ClimAct member, plans to bring forth a carbon neutrality resolution to the university’s Faculty Senate in October. The resolution — proposed by Burke, Scott Marshall and Susan Doll — urges the university administration to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.
Going forward, Huber said ClimAct will continue to put the conversation of climate change at the forefront of town and university proceedings as well as community conversations. This includes an ongoing process of outreach to different schools across the University of North Carolina system to see if there’s interest across the state on working on system-wide climate action, according to Huber.
ClimAct plans to host another Climate Strike-type event in November, Huber said. She added that those who are interested in ClimAct should attend its community potlucks hosted at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday at Third Place.