Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to NYU on Friday to discuss climate change and the steps being taken to address this issue with state leaders and distinguished students. [email protected] and Know Tomorrow hosted the governor as a part of a panel in the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life.
Cuomo announced he will hold a competition among New York colleges and universities. The three schools with the highest scores based on three criteria — becoming energy efficient, reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy use — will win $1 million dollars.
“We have this energy in these universities,” Cuomo said. “Let’s use the universities, use them as a model.”
Cuomo said New York has taken steps to stop climate change, such as setting a goal for the state to be using 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but that tougher laws are necessary to fight it. He added that the state has initiated many energy and climate programs — focusing on ideas like greenhouse gases, energy efficiency and renewable energy — that were subsequently adopted by the United States as a whole, including worker protection programs and public housing programs.
“It is our role to take on the tough challenges,” Cuomo said. “We started these things first, and then other states looked to New York and emulated what we were doing.”
Also present was Marc Yaggi, the executive director of the Waterkeeper Alliance, who spoke about how clean water and climate change are closely linked.
“Climate change is transforming the chemistry of our oceans, the character of our coastlines and the timing and intensity of the rain and snow causing problems all across the globe,” Yaggi said.
Five NYU students working for various organizations on campus held a panel discussion at the end of the event, and they described how their organizations are dealing with climate change.
Many of the speakers, including Gallatin senior Sophie Lasoff, spoke about NYU Divest, whose main goal is to get NYU to stop giving money to fossil fuel extractors, particularly coal.
“NYU has invested $139 million, which is about 4 percent of the endowment, in the fossil fuel industry,” Lasoff said. “We were able to get a resolution passed and now we’re waiting to hear back from the board.”
Some students held up cardboard suns during the event to show Cuomo that they believe he should focus more attention on solar power.
Michael Hengerer, president of the Student Senators Council, talked about the responsibility NYU has to promote sustainable practices thanks to its global reach.
“What we have that New York City doesn’t have is that we are a global institution,” Hengerer said. “So we have the ability not to just spread this in NYU and in New York City, but we have the ability to take sustainability on a much more global scale.”
CAS freshman Myles Agudelo* said he appreciated how Cuomo spoke directly to the NYU students in attendance and watching from home about how much impact they can have on their own.
“I think my favorite moment was when governor Cuomo went up and he really just talked directly to NYU students in saying that this is where the change can happen, within this community here, and something can really start, as a lot of other movements have started with small groups,” Agudelo said.
*Myles Agudelo has previously contributed to WSN.
Email Maddie Norwood at [email protected]