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Several hundred students in Ann Arbor walk out for climate

Tracy Samilton
Michigan Radio

Several hundred Ann Arbor high school and university students walked out of class Friday to urge swifter action on climate change.

University of Michigan student Logan Vear is an organizer. 

She points to a new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warns that humans must completely eliminate their carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. That would give the world a fighting chance of limiting global warming.

But many companies - including Michigan's two largest utilities - only promise to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80% by then.

"And I think there are a lot of existing deadlines like that, not only in Michigan but across the nation, that obviously are not good enough," says Vear.

Vear says elected officials are also not taking the threat seriously enough.

"The people in power who are of older generations do not understand the urgency," she says. "And just the feeling that comes with facing this as the youth do."

After the rally, some of the students occupied the Regents' building, in part to protest the university's expansion of its natural gas plant.

They say other universities have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint to zero by 2050, and the University of Michigan should do the same.

The University says the natural gas plant is necessary to provide reliable energy for dorms, scientific labs, and the hospital, and that otherwise, it is taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from university activities.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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