Press Release- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For Youth Power Summit: Anna Kucher, Ithaca High School, firstname.lastname@example.org / 607-342-3564
For City of Ithaca: Julie Conley Holcomb, City Clerk, email@example.com/ 607-274-6570
CITY OF ITHACA RESPONDS TO YOUTH DEMANDS, BECOMES FIRST EAST COAST CITY TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS
100 Tompkins County middle school, high school and college students converge for Youth Power Summit 2013, Demand Climate Justice from City of Ithaca on Earth Day
Ithaca, NY – This Earth Day the City of Ithaca, NY has become the first east coast city, and second city in the world to agree to divest its financial holdings in fossil fuels. Ithaca follows the City of Seattle, which agreed to divest earlier this year. Ithaca City Mayor, Svante Myrick, joined forces with student organizers of the Youth Power Summit 2013, a climate justice convergence for over 100 young people ages 16-23 from Tompkins County. On Friday, April 19, 2013 Mayor Myrick met with students to discuss divestment, and agreed to issue a statement from the city on Monday, April 22, 2013 Earth Day.
Today Mayor Myrick replied, “The City of Ithaca does not invest in fossil fuels and I can certainly commit, as long as I am Mayor, to not investing City funds in fossil fuels.” Mayor Myrick has also agreed to write a letter urging the NY State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, who manages the NY state employee pensions, including the City of Ithaca’s, to divest the NY State Pension fund from fossil fuels and re-invest in socially responsible alternatives.
Gabriel Shapiro, a Junior at Lehman Alternative Community School, responded to the City’s statement. “We’re proud that our Mayor is not only willing to listen to young people’s demands, but to actively support our work. Our generation will disproportionately experience the impacts of climate change–as systematically marginalized communities already are–and we’re excited that Mayor Myrick is willing to give us a seat at the table around decisions that affect us.” The City of Ithaca’s campaign is the first in the country led by high school and college students.
Mayor Myrick also explained his support for youth leadership, “I believe that young people have the creativity, energy, and moral authority that is needed in many of our public debates. A perfect example is the work this group has done. The commitment these young people have shown to safeguarding our environment should serve as an inspiration to us all.”
On Saturday April 20 through Sunday April 21, 2013, over 100 students converged for the Youth Power Summit 2013 at Ithaca College to develop local strategies for youth climate justice leadership. Summit organizer Jane Whiting, Senior at New Roots Charter School, explained, “We took two days to deeply explore the social roots and social impacts of climate change, and to collaborate with our community to re-center our environmental work around social justice. Divestment is one step toward creating a future that puts equity and justice at the center of our solutions to the climate crisis.”
Organizers hope that the City’s decision will influence divestment campaigns at Cornell University and Ithaca College. Reed Steberger, a State Coordinator with the Green Umbrella – NY Youth for a Just and Sustainable Future, and a Senior at Cornell said, “President Skorton at Cornell, as well as President Rochon at Ithaca College need to recognize that we are in an urgent crisis that demands immediate action. The City of Ithaca is showing true leadership in response to youth demands, and both universities should follow suit.”
Students also cite the increasing use of direct action for climate justice as a source of inspiration in their work. Anna Kucher, a Sophomore at Ithaca High School said “We’ve been inspired by actions taken by our friends and allies, Sandra Steingraber and Tim DeChristopher, and see our work alongside theirs in a growing national movement. Earth Day is an opportunity to recognize that when we act collectively we are stronger than the fossil fuel companies who hold a tyrannical monopoly over our socioeconomic system and perpetuate deeply rooted systems of oppression. We will take back our future.”