Opting for a more politicized rendition of “Calling the Dogs,” climate activists under the university’s arch said there is nothing finer than a “climate activist”-Georgia fan on Friday.
Cheering for every cyclist and public bus that rolled down Broad Street on Friday, protestors and environmental activists in front of the Arch stood out from the rest of the population as downtown Athens prepared for a gameday weekend.
The crowd was partaking in the Athens chapter of the worldwide climate strike held on Sept. 20 to demand lawmakers address climate change. The local chapters of the strike were organized by the Georgia Climate Change Coalition.
The event began at 12 p.m. as a crowd of protestors held signs facing traffic. At 5 p.m., the crowd of nearly 200 listened as organizers and climate activists from Athens passed around a megaphone and spoke about the topic of the day.
District attorney candidate Deborah Gonzalez spoke to the crowd about the effects of climate change. During her speech, Gonzalez mentioned the far-reaching nature of climate change, referencing the inundation of football coverage from the past week.
“Climate change affects everything,” she said. “Even the beer that will be consumed by the barrel-load tomorrow.”
Gonzalez also touched on policy-driven solutions of climate change. Gonzalez mentioned climate change’s greater effect on low-income communities and how her office will commit to using more sustainable energy if elected district attorney.
Sustainable energy was the topic of Nnenne Onyioha-Clayton’s speech to the crowd of protestors. Onyioha-Clayton, a renewable energy activist with the 100% Athens grassroots campaign, addressed the organization’s advocacy of converting Athens-Clarke County to 100% sustainable energy by 2035.
100% Athens was also collecting signatures to call the University of Georgia to commit to sustainable energy sources. Fourth-year Ph.D. candidate Nikki Luke stood alongside the organization to gain signatures for the initiative.
As the community’s largest employer and a research institution, the university is in an opportune position to create jobs in renewable energy, Luke said. She stressed that along with converting to clean energy, the university would need to focus on training local workers so they could compete in the renewable energy market and paying those workers a living wage.
“If UGA was able to take this step, it would be a role model to the surrounding community that cares about clean energy,” Luke said. “And cares about doing it in a way that supports local and equitable development.”