Andie Madsen, cell: 801-598-4231
Salt Lake City, UT-- Last night, the Salt Lake City District School board passed a resolution unanimously establishing the goal of transitioning the school district to 100% clean electricity by 2030, and off of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2040. This effort was led by students from Salt Lake's three major high schools, in collaboration with Utah Sierra Club and Sierra Club's Climate Parents program. In advance of the June 2nd board meeting, students submitted a petition in support of the resolution to the board signed by 800 district students, parents, and staff.
There is momentum building among school districts around the country to commit to 100% clean energy to do their part to address climate change and ensure all students throughout the district have access to high-quality learning environments. A commitment of this kind offers a myriad of co-benefits including, saving money on energy bills, improving indoor and outdoor air quality through energy efficiency measures, and creating opportunities to improve STEM learning by exposure to on-site clean energy technologies. Districts across the country have made similar commitments, including Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and several smaller districts in Minnesota. Salt Lake City School District's resolution is among the most comprehensive.
According to Andie Madsen, a leader of the Students for 100% Clean Energy team, "We are really grateful for the board's leadership in transitioning our district to 100% clean energy, and we're inspired that something we put into motion as young people will be put into action by our district." She added, "People in our generation are facing a lot of uncertainties, from COVID-19 to the climate crisis, and this is a win we're happy about because it demonstrates our commitment to building the strength of our communities."
Parents, students, teachers, and community members watched the virtual school board meeting on Tuesday to demonstrate broad support for the resolution, and dozens of community members and local organizations submitted letters of support. Additional letters of support came from community organizations like Utah Sierra Club, Climate Parents, Utah Clean Energy, the Salt Lake City Sustainability Office, and HEAL Utah.
The campaign aimed to advance climate solutions and demonstrate youth power in shaping the future. As, Mahider Tadesse, stated, "When I started an environmental club at East High in September, I never thought our involvement would reach this level of impact." She added, "This campaign has shown me what a big difference a group of high schoolers can make in leading the way for climate action that has the potential to expand equity by investing cost-savings into underserved students and improving indoor air quality, which will help students--myself and community included--who are disproportionately exposed to air pollution where they live."
While many of the team are not eligible to vote in elections, they've found their way to shape the future through a collaborative process and grassroots organizing. The Student 100% Clean Energy team, Sierra Club Utah, and Climate Parents have been working together since last fall and were able to push forward during the COVID 19 pandemic through digital engagements with board members and at board meetings.
Additional quotes from students involved in the Clean Energy Campaign stated:
"As a student who has been a part of the SLCSD all my life, I am so excited about this resolution because I want to leave a legacy and create a better district for all future students. This entire movement has been so inspiring to me because it has shown me how big of a difference a group of high schoolers can make literally in the future of our school district and even our city." - Emma Johnson
"To me, the Clean Energy Campaign is incredibly significant because it demonstrates the power of young people. It illustrates how students can band together to accomplish something that no one has even attempted before; something that will continue to benefit their communities years after their time in high school ends." - Andoni Telenodis
"To me, this resolution is very important because we will be able to bring Utah into a cleaner future. Supporting renewable energy is very relevant, especially nowadays, where the planet's climate is suffering. By passing it, it will allow not only better well being for the planet, but also humanity in general." - Eve Jeffries
"I think that 100% clean energy is important for SLCSD because it puts us as leaders on climate action, and with young people being particularly vulnerable to fossil fuel pollution, it is important that schools advocate for climate solutions." -Lola Maldonado
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.