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Fossil Free Futures Now

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Wednesday afternoon April 6th students and community members rallied in front of the EMU to demand the University of Oregon move off fracked gas and electrify its infrastructure. They also continued to call on the City of Eugene to ban the use of so-called “natural gas” in newly constructed buildings, and transition to the use of electricity for all buildings.

The event was organized by UO Climate Justice League’s Fossil Free UO campaign. Fossil Free UO was started at the end of last school year coming out of Divest UO, which put pressure on the UO Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. After UO foundation leaders said its fossil fuel investments will be expiring soon and will continue to be divested according to their Environmental, Social, & Governance investment policy, Climate Justice League began Fossil Free UO to have the University move its infrastructure entirely off of fossil fuel sources. Currently they are focusing on switching the so-called “natural gas” boilers to electric boilers, which make up about 91% of the campus’s heating. In total, natural gas equipment accounts for 79% of the UO’s emissions.

The crowd held up signs painted by students in Climate Justice League, with messages like “Invest in our Future”, “Just Transition NOW”, “Fossil Fuels Kill”, and “Students for a Fossil Free UO” while speakers took to the mic. In addition to Climate Justice League, the rally featured speakers representing Sunrise Eugene, 350 Eugene, Fossil Free Eugene Coalition, OSPIRG , Save the Urban Farm, and the Progress UO ASUO campaign.

Climate Justice League members asked, “Why is a fossil free campus important to you?” and read student, alumni, and community testimonials. Bryn Callie read one alumni’s response to the question, “For the obvious reasons– we live in 2022.” “Is this affordable? Is this feasible? And obviously, yes, but I think it’s time for us to flip the question. Is it affordable to not transition? Is it feasible to live in an [uninhabitable] environment because of our climate crisis? No.” David Lefevre of Fossil Free UO said Wednesday.

Fossil Free UO stands in partnership with Fossil Free Eugene, which was started in 2020 to bring together activist efforts to make sure the city fulfills its stated climate efforts. Fossil Free Eugene scored a win last November when Eugene City Council voted to hold work sessions on electrifying the city. Their demands are: To ban the construction of all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the city; to levy a fee on NW Natural and other polluting corporations to create a fund to transition low income and historically marginalized communities from fracked gas to electric appliances, and to retrofit homes to increase efficiency;nd to transition all utilities in the City to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Climate Justice League meets on Tuesdays at 6pm in the EMU Diamond Lake room. Besides the Fossil Free UO campaign, the group also runs a forest defense campaign and produces the podcast called “Climate Justice Network".

Learn more about Fossil Free Eugene at their website: fossilfreeeugene.org

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