Student-driven campaign asks MMSD to work toward 100% renewable energy in schools

Student-driven campaign asks MMSD to work toward 100% renewable energy in schools

A student-driven, grassroots campaign is working to get the Madison Metropolitan School District to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

The city of Madison and Dane County have already established 100 percent renewable energy resolutions. MMSD students are hoping to ride that momentum, starting a petition to bring clean energy into their schools.

The Madison Youth Climate Change Team supports 100% Renewable Madison School Petition. We need10,000 signatures by the end of this month which would push for MMSD to use 100% renewable energy by 2040. It only takes your name and an email!

— Madison East HS (@MadisonEastHS) February 5, 2019

“I fear the climate of Madison is really going to change,” West High senior Katia Wanish said.

Much like renewable energy, one might say learning is the gift that keeps on giving.

“I remember my freshman year, my biology teacher displayed to me the importance of making renewable choices,” Wanish said. “They really are teaching about climate change in the classroom.”

From the classroom, to helping out during last summer’s historic flooding, she’s inspired to put her knowledge to use.

“I got really concerned about the environment, because scientists say these dramatic climate events are directly related to climate change,” Wanish said.

Beyond the usual extracurriculars like cross country and track, Wanish is part of a the student-led campaign encouraging MMSD to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy resolution.

It’s perhaps a lofty goal from where the district is now, which Wanish estimates at 3 percent, but she thinks it’s an achievable one.

“I think it’s a big step, but I definitely think it’s realistic and necessary,” she said.

“Cities are doing this, it makes natural sense for school districts to do the same,” said MMSD graduate Charles Hua, who co-founded and now leads the campaign while attending Harvard University.

Hua said the clean energy commitment would mean solar panels at schools and investing in renewable energy credits. He believes the resolution would not only improve the environment, but save taxpayers money in the long-term and set an example for other schools across the country.

“Young people will be disproportionately hurt by the consequences of climate change, so it’s important for them to be driving the movement forward,” he said.

Wanish said it’s important for students now and for many generations to come.

“I’ve grown up in Madison my whole life. I believe Madison can become a model of sustainability for other districts to follow,” Wanish said. “I want to make sure we can mitigate these changes and save Madison for my future children, grandchildren and future Madisonians. I really like Madison the way it is now, and I don’t want it to be hit hard by climate disasters.”

Hua said the student group is hoping to collect 10,000 signatures on their petition by the end of the month, and he’s hopeful the school board will vote on the resolution in the coming weeks.

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