Open Letter on Cornell’s Leadership Role in a Clean, Just and Sustainable New York

On Friday, September 23rd over 40 students gathered on Cornell’s campus for Moving Planet, to rally and deliver a letter requesting that President Skorton meet with KyotoNOW! and the Sustainability Hub to discuss Cornell’s Climate Action Plan and university’s role in the Regional Economic Development Council for the Southern Tier region of New York.  As co-chair of this council, President Skorton has the position to lead our region toward sweeping clean energy programs that will build the green economy where it counts–in our communities. The letter was delivered to Vice President Susan Murphy, who will ensure President Skorton replies to us next week (9/26). The letter is as follows:

Dear President Skorton,

Today on Ho Plaza, students and community members rallied around the growing movement for locally based, clean energy solutions to the climate crisis.  Increasingly, we realize that the actions necessary to build the green economy will not be easily handed to us by our elected political leaders.  As our economy struggles to run on scarcer, dirtier and more dangerous sources of fossil fuel, students around the country are directly engaging with our communities to build a just and sustainable future from the grassroots up.

As students, we take it as a directive that Cornell’s Climate Action Plan must have “an impact well beyond our campus borders.”  Moreover, as climate change intensifies and unconventional fossil fuel extraction threatens our state’s environment, communities and prized agrotourism and wine industry, it is fitting to emphasize the “Action” component of our university’s Climate Action Plan.

President Skorton — Cornell is poised to lead our community in the transition to clean sources of energy.  The recent introduction of New York’s Regional Economic Development Councils focuses “economic development efforts … where they can have the most impact,” on the local level.  In your role as Co-Chair of the council, Cornell can play a paramount role in meeting the urgent challenges of our time and making transformative contributions to the world by prioritizing the creation of a thriving green economy in New York, with impacts reaching far beyond our state.

Last year, you called on the Cornell student body to “Get Active, Stay Active.”  We are writing today to answer that call.  KyotoNOW! and the Sustainability Hub request a meeting with you to discuss the role of the Climate Action Plan and the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council in the future of our community, both within and beyond the borders of our campus.  By doing so we are engaging Cornell with the broad movement among young people to take the American political tradition back to where it counts: our communities.


KyotoNOW and the Sustainability Hub


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