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SOLUTIONS: Princeton grad students brush up on global warming response for upcoming forum

In early 2017, a number of Princeton students, led by Jonathan Lu and Joseph Abbate, started the Princeton Students’ Climate Initiative (PSCI). Their purpose was to come together to propose environmental policies that would lead to a reduction of fossil fuel emissions – initiatives long stalled in Congress.

Among the steps they planned was to hold a forum, now scheduled for this coming Sept. 15, in which a number of crucial policies tackling global warming and related issues would be discussed and lead to action.

The issues the PSCI sees as necessary to address are: emissions or air pollution, transportation, buildings’ emissions and power sources, equitable or just transitions for all community members, resiliency, waste, and warming gases and their sources.

Expected participants will be not only students and members of the university, but members of local environmental groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, Sustainable Princeton, Footprints 2 Wings, the Sierra Club and others.

So that the forum discussions would not become scattered and unwieldy, the PSCI leaders held a mid-August dry run in which policies, moderators, pace and timing were discussed. The purpose of this practice session held at the university’s Frist Campus Center was to ensure clarity and efficiency in the September forum.

During the the dry run, the first issue discussed was air pollution, or emissions. Those speaking out saw several aspects necessary to cover, including reports on the levels and sources of pollutions, along with strategies to combat emissions. There seemed to be general agreement that putting a price on carbon through fee and dividend programs could be the most efficient, and most likely to be adopted, solution.

The second topic to be addressed was buildings – their power sources and emissions. Speakers reported that the problem holding back many building owners from addressing the issue is the fear of up-front costs. Community or government assistance has been and can be of assistance. The benefits to owners of the various LEED designations was also noted. In addition, participants mentioned that allied building costs, such as location and transportation, should also be discussed.

The intention for the upcoming September forum is for attendees to not only come away with hope that pollution could be curtailed, but that they will take with them a number of effective technologies and policies to be supported and adopted.

A third major policy topic was transportation. With New Jersey’s relatively clean electric power sources, vehicles emissions are the single greatest source of emissions. Those at the dry-run meeting stated that long-term planning will be crucial, whether for more centralized transportation, alternate fuels, electric or hybrid vehicles, community financing, and state, regional, or national fee and dividend programs.

Generally, students involved in the forum hope the event will provide direction for everyday citizens. For those who have wondered what can be done about global warming, and the many allied issues, PSCI’s September forum should provide both ideas and participants to undertake solutions.

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