In late November, a petition urging school officials to buy more renewable energy caught the attention of large portions of the student body. This petition, circulated by the newly-formed Texans For Climate Change Action, received 735 individual signatures and the support of 23 student organizations.
“We originally thought most signatures would come from our members, but we were amazed to get 23 Rice student organizations, including Coffeehouse, the SA Environmental Committee, Rice Bikes, and five residential colleges to sign on,” Texans For Climate Change Action co-founder Ryan Pappal said. “[It] took all of us by surprise how much students cared about this issue!”
Texans For Climate Change Action held their inaugural meeting Nov. 19, with about 50 members attending. The new organization, started by seniors Pappal and Hasan Seede, saw the need for Rice University to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The club has other goals aimed at being a “comprehensive” environmental organization, including supporting solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations on campus. It also has a wider scope targeted at changing policies from the City of Houston and the State of Texas, something that started with Texans For Climate Change Action filing for nonprofit status.
“We want to engage politicians and promote policies that help cut down on emissions and pollution,” Pappal said. “We will have a group of students who research issues and write policy briefs and opinion pieces to magazines and journals. We will have a group of students who organize events, such as conventions, luncheons, and protests where applicable. The sky is the limit, and the issue is more urgent now than ever.”
Pappal encouraged anyone who wants to be involved to take a stand on climate change action.
“Get involved in an organization,” he said. “We all are working toward the same goal in different ways. If activism and public outreach is your thing, TFCCA has a place for you. Find something you are passionate about and try it out. You will be surprised how much you enjoy it, especially when surrounded by intelligent fantastic fellow students who are just as passionate as you.”
As for the petition, Pappal and Seede are scheduled to meet with Rice administrators in January to discuss renewable energy at Rice. Pappal said some students were concerned that buying more renewable energy would lead to higher tuition costs, but he calmed worries by insisting that Rice has “managed to negotiate contracts with green energy companies over the past two years that have not increased [Rice’s] energy costs one cent.” Pappal was grateful for the response to the petition, stating that Texans For Climate Change Action members are inspired by the demonstrated student interest on the Rice campus.