Carson City School Board unanimously passes Schools for Climate Action resolution

by Roger Moellendorf and Brian Bahouth

Silver State Solar Power plant South, adjacent to Primm, Nevada - photo: Basin and Range Watch

Carson City – Last night the Carson City School Board unanimously approved a resolution titled Schools for Climate Action, “a non-partisan, grassroots, youth-adult campaign with a mission to empower schools to speak up for climate action in order to protect current and future generations.”  Nationwide, thirty-one other districts have adopted similar resolutions. Washoe County schools became the first district in Nevada to pass the resolution in December of last year.

Midge Breeden from Citizens’ Climate Lobby and two Carson City Middle School students, Sophia Whately and Kairi Samaras, presented the resolution to the Carson City School Board.

Hear an audio interview with Midge Breeden, Sophia Whately, and Kairi Samaras …

On a national level, Citizens’ Climate Lobby has been advocating for a piece of federal legislation that would impose a fee on carbon emissions.  An associated group, Citizens’ Climate Education, is working in schools across the nation to pass the climate action resolution, Schools for Climate Action.

“What we’re working on now is with school districts, to get school districts to pass resolutions that say we need to do something.  We need to do it immediately, and it needs to be serious, what we do,” Midge Breeden said after the school board unanimously passed the Climate Action resolution.  Based on the 2018 Nevada Department of Education NRS 387.303 report, the Carson City School District spent less on energy per pupil than any other district in the state, and Breeden was quick to say the Carson City School Board is already working in the right direction.

“The educational curriculum here that my own kids here have seen, have experienced, is helping a lot to teach about climate science, and then the sustainability awards that this district has won.  Two Pinecone sustainability awards is a big deal.”

For Breeden and Citizens’ Climate Lobby, working on a local level in schools is in service to the larger ambition of a national carbon fee.

“We want a bill passed through congress that’s going to put a fee on carbon emissions,” Breedon said.  “Because if we don’t do that, we’re in deep trouble. We’re already in deep trouble, but we want to put a fee on carbon emissions to raise the price of carbon gradually, as a rising fee every year. That will make carbon more expensive.  They’ll invest in sustainable energy. They’ll start riding their bikes more, taking public transportation. That’s what we have to do. That’s our goal.”

Sophia Whately is 12 years old and a sixth grader at Carson City middle school.  Whately said adoption of the resolution was an important step for the district.

“I feel like if we don’t do something soon about it, it’s going to spiral out of control and get worse and worse and worse until we have no choice, and I’ve learned growing up that stopping a problem before it is even totally started is a better resolution that letting it get awful and then trying to stop it,” Whately said when interviewed following the school board meeting.

Kairi Samaras is a Carson Middle School student and co-presenter of the resolution.  

“We have to stop before it gets out of hand and a number of issues, but  we have to stop it by decreasing pollution and changing the type of gas people use in their car and stuff like that and give people actions to stop air pollution and stop climate change,” Samaras said.

When asked what she was doing on a personal level to combat climate change, Sophia Whately said her family takes many different steps to lower their carbon footprint.

“We use tote bags instead of using bags at the store.  We avoid using water in plastic bottles at all. We bike to school because we live in biking distance, so we sometimes bike to school instead of riding in a car.”

As part of the resolution the school district will promote sustainability in several conservation and environmental health efforts to include air and noise pollution, energy efficiency, renewable energy, indoor air quality, facility condition, green chemical processing cleaning and environmental contaminant hazards, recycling, water, landscaping and gardens, and capital construction.  Both Whately and Samaras said they will be working throughout the school year to raise awareness about the issue of anthropogenic climate change and associated environmental issues.

For more from Midge Breeden, Sophia Whately and Kairi Samaras, listen to the audio interview embedded above …