Albuquerque, NM – On Wednesday, the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) Senate passed a resolution in support of UNM transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The resolution passed unanimously by all in attendance.
The resolution cites the boost to the economy, public health benefits, educational and research opportunities for students, and environmental protection that 100 percent renewable energy at UNM would provide. Students from Environment New Mexico UNM Chapter, the UNM Sierra Student Coalition, Ecoreps, and the Geology and Environmental Science Club all stood in support of the resolution during the public comment period.
Environment New Mexico applauds ASUNM’s passage of the resolution. “New Mexico is the second sunniest and twelfth windiest state in the nation, and thus has enormous potential to lead the nation in renewable energy,” said Erin Pang, an organizer with Environment New Mexico. “Within New Mexico, UNM is an influential academic institution and thought leader that can lead the community, city, and state towards more wind and solar energy.”
The students expressed the urgency of acting to prevent further climate disaster.
“Climate justice is not just about revolutionizing the way we power our lives, but how we empower lives,” said UNM Sierra Student Coalition President Keely Scheffler. “We have to stand with this movement because so much of the terrors we see in our world are systematically connected, climate justice being a big catalyst in the perpetuating other existing oppression in our world.”
The ASUNM senate unanimously passed a similar resolution last year. The passage of this year’s resolution demonstrates students’ continued support for renewable energy at UNM. So far, a petition for 100 percent renewable energy at UNM has garnered more than 1000 signatures from the UNM community.
"I have been working with Environment New Mexico and its associated student group, known as Environment UNM, on this resolution since early September,” said Sen. Selina Montoya, the sponsor of the resolution. “I am honored to use my position as a Senator to sponsor and aid this group in their mission to continually spread environmental awareness. Working with Environment New Mexico has demonstrated to me the importance of renewable energy, in our local community, and in the world. Student groups like Environment UNM demonstrate why our generation must act and start investing in renewable energy."
The resolution lays out UNM’s past commitments to act on climate change such as signing on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2008, releasing a Climate Action Plan in 2009 with a strategic goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, and building seven separate solar energy installations on campus that together produce a total of 467 kilowatts of energy. In addition, the resolution urges UNM to follow in the footsteps of satellite campuses like UNM-Taos in making a commitment to run on 100 percent renewable energy.
The resolution concludes stating that ASUNM “that ASUNM strongly urges the UNM President and Board of Regents to act in accordance with UNM’s Administrative Policy on Sustainability, UNM’s 2009 Climate Action Plan, and begin to take concrete steps to make the transition to one hundred percent (100%) renewable energy for UNM Albuquerque before 2050.”
The ASUNM Senate agreed to forward a copy of the resolution to the President of the United States, the EPA Administrator, New Mexico’s Congressional Representatives and Senators, UNM’s Board of Regents, UNM’s President, and UNM’s Office of Sustainability. This resolution demonstrates the desire of the student body and encourages UNM to commit to 100 percent renewable energy in the near future.
“As the generation that will be most affected by climate change, we bear the burden to make changes in the places where we have power to make the world sustainable,” said Harper Gamble, president of Environment New Mexico UNM Chapter and co-founder of the UNM Environmental Coalition.