MA High Schoolers Fight for Divestment at the State House

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For Immediate Release
Release Date: 6/9/2015
Contact: Leah Qusba | 262.880.8661 | leah@acespace.org

Ten high schoolers from Massachusetts will visit the Massachusetts State House today to deliver more than 3500 signatures from stakeholders in support of a bill that would divest Massachusetts’ state pension fund from the fossil fuel industry. These students have been pushing for statewide divestment for the past year and some have boycotted potential universities for their failure to divest.

Youth are meeting with Representative James Murphy (D - Weymouth), chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service. During the meeting today, they will ask him to pass the Divestment Bill out of Committee and support the bill at a hearing that’s scheduled for next Tuesday at 11:00 a.m., EDT.  

These young people have worked to rally their teachers to the cause, collecting signatures in support of divesting their pensions. Cate Arnold, a public school teacher at Boston Latin School, supported the petition, saying: "the State of Massachusetts absolutely should divest our pension funds from fossil fuels. This is exactly the sort of leadership on climate change and sustainability that Massachusetts should be out in front on. Divesting public money from pension funds is the perfect opportunity to take powerful, highly visible, high impact action towards a better future.”

Over the course of the last 6 months, ACE Action Fellows have worked with 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future and other organizations to pressure Massachusetts to divest from fossil fuels. ACE Fellows joined a diverse coalition on Global Divestment Day, February 12, at the State House. There they recruited legislators to a Carbon Risk Panel, spoke at a rally, lobbied their lawmakers and led a youth divestment organizing workshop. You can see ACE Fellow, Kerry Brock’s speech here.

Maya Greally, a sophomore at Boston Latin School says "I want my elected officials to step up and support this the Massachusetts Divestment Bill. You don't have to love nature or the planet or be an earthy crunchy hippie, or even necessarily be a climate activist or environmentalist, you just have to be someone who cares about youth, who cares the generations to come and who cares about the well-being of people, because that's who the fossil fuel industry is harming, people."

These students aren’t the only ones taking their concerns to their elected officials. We’ve already seen ACE Action Fellows from across the country visit their senators in Washington to lobby for climate action. ACE Fellows from Nevada even took time out of their spring break to visit their state senators in Carson City to lobby in support of Nevada’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standards. These high school students recognize that they will be the generation most impacted by the consequences of climate change and they are taking it upon themselves to do something about it.

Details

What: MA high school students lobbying representatives in support of divesting state pensions
Where: Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St. Boston, MA 01233, Room 156
When: June 4, 2015 at 4 p.m.
Who: Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Action Fellows:

  • Grace Chin - Senior - Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School
  • Maya Greally - Sophomore - Boston Latin School
  • James Coakley - Sophomore - Boston Latin School
  • Peter Diamond - Senior - Newton North High School
  • Milo Sherwood - Senior - Chelsea High School
  • Julia Wyatt - Sophomore - Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School
  • Emily MacDonald - Senior - Southeastern Regional Technical Vocational High School
  • Liza Sockwell - Junior - Newton South High School
  • Jacob Hartman - Junior - Newton South High School
  • Jasmyn Mitchell - Junior - Wellesley High School

More about ACE:

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) recognizes that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change, and the most to gain by solving it. ACE educates high school students about climate change and inspires them to take action.

Since 2008, ACE has reached over 1.8 million students across America with its climate education program and inspired over 300,000 students to take action. ACE has also empowered thousands of new and diverse students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be effective leaders. The program has been proven to work. In 2014, ACE students advocated for a New York City climate education mandate, pushed for school districts to cut carbon, and partnered with policy experts for lasting climate solutions.

ACE seeks to shift the landscape of climate engagement, which has traditionally excluded young people and communities of color – those that are most affected by climate consequences. 73% of ACE schools are public and 60% of students in its programs are youth of color.