UC Santa Cruz students host second annual Student Climate Conference

Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at UC Santa Cruz’s Rachel Carson College, the UC Santa Cruz Climate Coalition is hosting a Student Climate Conference, with student panels, academic posters, and art from graduate and undergraduate students from not just UC Santa Cruz but other California colleges and universities.

Building on the success of the first Student Climate Conference in Nov 2022, “Beyond the Bullshit: Waking Up a Warming World,” this year’s conference organizers reached out to sister UCs and other local colleges and universities, like Stanford University and Cabrillo College. Even a student from the University of British Columbia will be presenting a paper.

The theme this year is “Shifting the Story: Climate Vulnerability, Social Solidarity, Environmental Justice.”  The keynote speaker is UC Berkeley’s Ashia Ajani.  Conference organizers are showcasing papers, academic posters, and art centered around climate justice, saying that “It is time to call the climate crisis what it is: the legacy of racism, colonialism, and neoliberal capitalism that values profits over people and people of color and other social minorities less than most.”  

According to the conference’s Call for Papers, the goal of this conference is to “shift the story”  towards “transformative change” and “examples of/possibilities for intersectional collaboration and opportunities created for and by a new generation of climate/social justice leaders.”

The UC Santa Cruz Climate Coalition, whose members now number nearly 700 UC Santa Cruz students, faculty, and staff, was founded in 2021 to push for campus decarbonization and more climate education. It is a member of the system-wide UC Green New Deal Coalition, which itself includes nearly 1000 members from all ten UC campuses advocating a “UC Green New Deal” policy platform, centered on campus decarbonization, climate education, and environmental justice

Besides the Nov 2022 First Annual Student Climate Conference, the UC Santa Cruz Climate Coalition’s past events and achievements include an open-to-the-public Earth Day 2022 Teach-In, speaker sponsorships, campus hikes and movie nights, and tireless advocacy to push UC Santa Cruz to be a true climate leader, one that not only advocates climate justice, but also makes its own campus operations and financial sources rigorously fossil-free. They have recently been heartened by the announcement by UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive that UC Santa Cruz would achieve 95% decarbonization of its Scope 1 (primary power) emissions by 2030 – a goal long sought by the UC Santa Cruz Climate Coalition and their allies.