On Wednesday, the Climate Reality Project had their first meeting at Colorado College. The Climate Reality Project is a national nonprofit organization with forty chapters across the nation. It was founded by Vice President Al Gore after the release of his award-winning documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth.” The organization’s goal is to get Colorado College to commit to one hundred percent renewable energy by 2030.
Colorado College juniors Nick Zushneid and Luke Hennigsen are interns for the Climate Reality Project and are the spearheads of the movement at Colorado College. Their goal is to establish the Climate Reality Project as an official club at Colorado College and to mobilize the student population into supporting the commitment to renewable energy. “We don’t need funding, we need people power,” said Hennigsen.
Colorado State University recently made the commitment to 100 percent renewable energy through the Climate Reality project. It is one of two schools in the nation that has made the commitment.
“We believe that we have a strong precedent for the commitment because of CSU,” said Hennigsen. It took Colorado State University students six months of organizing and submitting petitions to get their president to commit to renewable energy. “We are looking for people to come to meetings, or to gather petitions and signatures,” says Zushneid.
Hennigsen and Zushneid hope that the Climate Reality Project will gain membership and support within the next few weeks. The goal is to get as many students to sign petitions in order to legitimize the movement at Colorado College and convince President Jill Teifenthaler to sign on to the project. “We are encouraging the president and the Board of Trustees we are demonstrating strong support,” said Hennigsen.
Zushneid and Hennigsen are working closely with the Office of Sustainability to figure out the logistics of establishing the organization as well as the steps to implement the plan, if Colorado College makes the commitment. In 2016, only six percent of energy used at Colorado College was renewable energy.
One of the main obstacles facing Colorado College’s use of renewable energy is the lack of economic options from Colorado Springs utilities. “They are not very cooperative with us in terms of our goals, they are not selling the wind power and the solar power necessary to go to one-hundred renewable energy,” said Zushneid. Next block, Colorado Springs Utilities will be addressing CC’s Sustainability Council. Zushneid and Hennigsen are hoping for a massive turnout of support for more renewable options.
Next Tuesday is a national day of action for the Climate Reality Project. Hennigsenand Zushneid are hoping to rally student participants to get signatures for the cause. In the long term, Zushneid and Hennigsen hope to follow a similar six-month time frame as Colorado State University by convincing President Tiefenthaler to sign on to the Climate Reality Project by the end of 2017.