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Climate Justice Cornell

Climate Justice Cornell 3

In the spring of 2001, when United States announced for the first time that it was pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol—a historic binding agreement between the world’s nations to reduce the greenhouse emissions that are causing the earth’s atmosphere to warm and seriously impact regional climates across the globe—student environmentalists at Cornell got busy. Organized as a new student group, KyotoNOW, they undertook a peaceful 7-day sit-in of Day Hall in April 2001 to demand that Cornell continue to commit to the emissions-reducing goals of the Protocol. The students’ actions worked: By the end of the semester, Cornell became the first University in the country to independently commit to the Protocol and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Known today as Climate Justice Cornell, Cornell’s climate action activists continues to work on realizing a bold vision, organizing on the Cornell campus, across New York State, and across the U.S. to “build an equitable, sustainable future, where a healthy environment is the cornerstone of healthy economies and communities.” CJC’s current area of focus for its campus activism is the issue of divestment. While Cornell has expressed a commitment to achieve its own carbon neutrality by 2030, students are frustrated that the University’s Board of Trustees continues to refuse to divest Cornell’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry that plays the world’s leading contributor to carbon pollution. CJC has held multiple campus protests and demonstrations to call upon Cornell to change this investment policy. In one recent piece of political satire staged on Ho Plaza earlier this spring, a theatrical mock wedding celebration drove home the problem that the close relationship Cornell continues to keep with the fossil fuel industry by virtue of its investment policy poses for its environmental commitment. For Earth Day 2020, CJC member Angeliki Cintron ’22 reminds us: “Pretty much all our actions try to show the intersections between climate change, fossil fuels, and social justice. Earth Day is a great opportunity to remind everyone that not only is the physical earth important to all of us, but so are the people that live in it. CJC will always use our activism to fight for the people disproportionately impacted by climate change.” To learn more about CJC and their mission check out their website at