Opening slide of presentation on Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy

Gay Nicholson shared the story of our Finger Lakes Climate Fund to a large audience of students and faculty at Cornell on February 18. The seminar series “Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge” mostly focuses on the issue from a global and national level, so our presentation on “Local Carbon Offsets for Energy Democracy” was very different for this audience.

Judging from the questions and follow-up surveys, students were glad to feel connected to ways to make a difference locally.

“I greatly appreciated the idea of tackling the Carbon problem on a local level. Throughout the entire seminar I was thinking about the impact a program such as this could have on my local community back home. Moving forward it will be essential that social change occurs in energy consumption to be effective in fighting climate change. Sustainable Tompkins takes this to the local level in a beautiful way. Not only are CO2 emissions being counteracted, but it is also having a local impact improving quality of life for those in the community. The spread of local carbon offset seems to have the potential to make a huge global impact.”

“Yes, I really appreciated hearing such a local viewpoint as a breath of fresh air. Like Gay mentioned, the issue of climate change and absolute neccesity to switch to clean energy can be very overwhelming and upsetting when you look at our country’s federal policies.  Furthermore, as we have studied in this class, global carbon cycle concerns and global equity concerns are building at exponential rates. It is very difficult to manage the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness as an individual within a problem so huge it could consume and affect every human on the planet. But, hearing that there are hundreds of people coming together to encourage a shift to clean energy and reduce the climate burden on my generation lifts a weight off my chest. There is still so much to be done, but it is good to know that I can get involved right off campus to actively make a difference.”

“The incorporation of a local community organization into the curriculum for this semester was an extremely rewarding experience because of the way in which it made me realize that the topic of climate change, which we usually imagine on a global scale, has both small-scale effects as well as solutions. By having an associate from Sustainable Tompkins speak, I was able to gain insight into ways that the local Ithaca community are working to assist in reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency. This small start-up increased my hope in finding new ways to adapt and mitigate on a local scale and the ability for individuals to make big changes in the world. I also found the support that this group provides the Tompkins County community’s less fortunate to be inspiring and made me optimistic for the future. This local perspective gave me the sense that everyone is capable of making change no matter how big or small.”

“I greatly appreciated Dr. Nicholson’s talk as I gained knowledge of local opportunities that I could potentially become involved with. One of my main reasons for taking this class was to gain insight into fields that I may be interested in for the future as well as experiences that I can participate in while at Cornell. This talk has made me aware of a place in the local Ithaca community that I can reach out to for volunteering or a paid position to not only gain experience, but also to help people. It has also made me interested in looking further into environmental economics as carbon offset could potentially be an integral part of mitigation in the future.”

“It was great to learn about something great happening in my immediate areas which got me thinking about the work that I could possibly get involved in to help. All the global efforts, while great, seem very far-fetched and not something I could feasibly make a contribution to as a single individual. I would really like to learn more about such efforts in this class as I really enjoyed this one and would love to hear about all the different ways I can help.”