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The 'Green New Deal' proposal was approved by the student senate at the University of Florida.
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proposal The ‘Green New Deal’ proposal was approved by the student senate at the University of Florida.

On Tuesday, the student senate at the University of Florida voted to approve a “green new deal,” making it the first public university to adopt this resolution through their student government.

The mandate, which received a unanimous vote, requires comprehensive actions to address the climate emergency on campus. These measures include a just transition, complete divestment from fossil fuels, transparency about the university’s financial connections with the private sector, and a prohibition on accepting research funding from the fossil fuel industry.

Florida students achieved a victory despite the prevalent climate denialism in their state. Governor Ron DeSantis has restricted freedom of speech in universities and publicly endorsed the use of fossil fuels. Furthermore, the Florida legislature is pushing for a bill that would remove any references to climate change from state laws.

Cameron Driggers, a freshman studying business administration at the University of Florida and the leader of Youth Action Fund, described the decision as a strong rejection of DeSantis’ support for climate denialism.

Driggers stated that the adoption of a ‘green new deal’ by a large campus in a conservative state is a promising indication of the movement’s expansion to other universities across the nation. This may prompt universities to acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and take appropriate action.

Sofia Aviles, a junior at the University of Florida and the leader of Sunrise Movement Gainesville, expressed that she and her fellow students are determined to demonstrate to the Florida government that their institution is supported by scientific evidence, despite their opposition.

Driggers mentioned that the school has received a considerable sum of money in the past, specifically $2.3 billion as of June 2022. This endowment is controlled by a private foundation, and the specific investments of the funds are not openly revealed. Students are optimistic that this requirement will promote greater clarity regarding the allocation of the funds.

According to Driggers, the university is funded by public money, yet the expenses remain undisclosed.

The proposal known as the “green new deal” will be presented to the University of Florida’s governing board, the board of trustees, on March 7 for final approval of its financial aspects. The resolution also includes a request for the immediate enactment of the university’s revised climate action plan. This plan includes measures to reduce emissions from buildings and decrease traffic emissions on campus. The plan, which was developed by the university’s sustainability office, has been delayed for almost a year.

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Jake Lowe, a member of the advocacy group Campus Climate Network, expressed that the youth in Florida desire a future in which their social institutions prioritize the climate crisis. He also mentioned that the impact of actions taken on college campuses goes beyond just the immediate community.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement on college campuses across the country to hold institutions accountable for their impact on the environment. Currently, students at American University are advocating for a “green new deal” that aims to decrease carbon emissions and increase financial transparency. The University of Massachusetts was the first major public university to divest its endowment from investments in fossil fuels in 2016, followed by the University of California, San Diego in 2019. In September of last year, New York University also joined the movement by divesting from fossil fuels, making it one of the largest private universities in the US to do so.

Aviles stated that science has long stated that human activity is responsible for climate change, and this is no longer a topic of discussion. They are demonstrating to the government that they will be guided by scientific evidence, rather than conforming to the government’s opinions on what should or should not be included in educational curriculums or state laws.

Source: theguardian.com