The third annual Climate Solutions Summit took place on Saturday at SUNY New Paltz in the midst of climate protests and actions taking place around the world.
Millions of students around the globe took place in a global climate protest on Friday, including students from SUNY New Paltz and New Paltz High School. The demonstration was fitting for the town of New Paltz, which has a large population of climate-conscious people.
The first Climate Solutions Summit took place in 2017 in Rochester, while the second summit took place last year in Syracuse, New York. The goal this year was to attract more students to the event, one of the many reasons the summit was held at SUNY New Paltz. Student admission was free, causing many SUNY New Paltz, Vassar, and high school students to attend.
“With the energy and the urgency that we’re feeling from young people, I think that’s what makes this moment so unique and exciting,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in his welcome speech.
The summit takes place to help organizers and communities along the northeast gain the knowledge they need to take action and implement climate changing solutions in their everyday lives. The summit took place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. starting with a vegan breakfast, and halfway through the day a vegan lunch took place.
The day was made up of different workshops on a variety of different topics, these workshops were set up as small panels in rooms in the Student Union Building. Attendants were seated and the panelists were at the front of the room, speaking about their topic and answering questions from the audience. Before the workshops started, there was an opening panel for everyone to attend.
The panel, “How to Accomplish New York’s Clean Energy and Climate Goals,” was made up of Senator Jen Metzger, Amanda Lefton, the First Assistant Secretary for Energy and the Environment at the Governor’s Office, Anne Reynolds, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s Environmental Action Director, and Stephan K. Roundtree, Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
Each panelist was given a chance to speak about their expertise in the environmental action movement while the audience were given cards to write down individual questions on which the panelists answered later. Some cards were read by the moderator, Betta Broad, the Director of New Yorkers for Clean Power, and she directed them to a workshop that might help answer the question more thoroughly.
“I’m certain, or at least I’m hopeful, that it means if you’re showing up on a Saturday morning to talk about these issues that you’re going to be making changes in your life every single day,” Lefton said at the panel.
There were four different workshop sessions with five to six different workshops in each session. There was also a “student track” for the workshops which helped students see which workshops would be best suited for them. After four hours of workshop attendance the day ended with an electric car parade in front of the school.
Attendees walked outside to vegan brownies and vegan coffee being served, while they watched electric cars from all car companies drive by and park in the nearby parking lot. The parade gave attendees the opportunity to meet electric car owners and test drive some of the cars. A local marching band played while the cars drove by and local artists made a statement with their paper mâché rendition of Mother Earth.
Along with getting informed and educated on all of the different topics regarding climate action, attendees were also given the chance to donate another $30 to cover food for the students while receiving utensils with holders to cut down their plastic waste.
“By doing this you will really reduce your plastic waste, and as we all know plastic is really just made up of fossil fuels,” Broad said.