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Emerson Supports Climate Action with Letter to Trump

Emerson College faculty and staff drafted a letter to president-elect Donald Trump and members of Congress asking that the new administration support efforts to combat climate change. The letter has so far garnered 170 signatures from college and university leaders across the country.

The letter was sent to presidents and chancellors on November 30 through Second Nature, an organization that supports the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), and will continue to collect signatures until January 13. It asks Trump and Congress to support the U.S.’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, climate change research, and investments in the low-carbon economy.

“The letter also aims to represent U.S. institutions as a stakeholder in climate and sustainability-related national efforts,” Amy Elvidge, Emerson sustainability coordinator and co-author of the letter, said in an email. “Our U.S. higher education network reflects the framework of the Paris commitment—American institutions work together to better serve our communities by providing them with clean energy, valuable jobs, and a healthy environment.”

Emerson is a member of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC), and Elvidge said she volunteered to draft a letter while NECSC contacted Second Nature about circulating the letter to a wider audience.

“Emerson is a school known for strong communication and marketing programs and a longtime devotee to the ACUPCC, making the letter a great opportunity to showcase our leadership in these two areas,” Elvidge said.

Elvidge and environmental scientist Jon Honea, an associate professor in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, wrote a draft of the letter, which was edited by staff at Tufts, Brandeis, and Clark universities, and Second Nature.

The letter reads, in part:

“The upcoming transition of federal leadership presents a unique opportunity to address head-on the challenges of climate change by accelerating the new energy economy and creating strong, resilient communities. This is particularly important for those in our communities most vulnerable to climate change. Your support for these areas is a critical investment in the future of the millions of students we serve.”

The letter isn’t likely to get a warm reception from Trump or the Republican-controlled Congress. On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement, though more recently he’s said he has “an open mind to it.”

Many of Trump’s Cabinet picks are climate change deniers or skeptics, according to The New York Times, including his choice for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, currently attorney general of Oklahoma.

So far, college and university leaders from 35 states have signed the letter. Local signatories, in addition to Emerson President Lee Pelton, include the presidents of Clark, Tufts, Framingham State, Salem State, and Westfield State universities; and Boston Architectural, Bunker Hill Community, Smith, Springfield, Wheaton, and Wheelock colleges.

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