Student Conference of the Parties

Wow. I just got back from SJSF’s Student Conference of the Parties (SCOP) in collaboration with the Pricing Carbon Conference. I was utterly impressed with and inspired by both halves of the event.

The Pricing Carbon Conference took place on Wesleyan University campus in Middletown, CT, November 19-21st. The event was co-hosted by Wesleyan’s newly established College of the Environment and the Price Carbon Campaign. Partners in the Conference included the Climate Crisis Coalition, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Carbon Tax Center, Future 500, Progressive Democrats of America, and our very own Students for a Just and Stable Future.

SJSF held its Student Conference of the Parties during workshop sessions and overtime, diligently amending, debating, and deliberating on our final product: a Declaration to be sent to our leaders at the international Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico next week.

The process of creating the declaration filled me with a sense of empowerment and renewed dedication to complete our part in the solution. The declaration consists of 3 parts: the first, a picture of climate change -– a view of the alarming state of the world we will see unfold if we continue on the road before us; the second, a commitment on our own behalf to act in very specific, deliberate ways to lead us to a clean energy future; the third, a strong and sincere call to action that we demand from our local, state, and world leaders. I give extra kudos to the students who worked on the first of the three parts; the first read-through of their revised version sent goose bumps through the room.

The Pricing Carbon Conference itself was fascinating. Key note speeches were given by James Hansen, leading Climate Change scientist, and Bill McKibbon, founder of 350 movement. The conference focused on the immediate necessity of pricing CO2 emissions. Speakers and attendees reflected a shift in the majority support in terms of pricing carbon options; while the Cap & Trade method was discussed, most prominently supported was the method of Fee & Dividend. Under Fee & Dividend, a fee would be placed on products based upon the inherent carbon costs of their production, and then the full amount of the revenue (or a majority percentage, if so decided) would be returned to the consumers by way of a check/electronic deposit. The revenue money would be returned evenly to all consumers, and so those who consume less carbon-intensive products will end up saving money, while those who consume more may lose money in the end.

A sincere thanks to everyone who made this conference possible and to the organizers who invited SJSF students to attend! I look forward to SJSF working alongside the other sponsoring organizations in building up the fight against climate change!

-Rachel Soule

You can view the declaration and add your name to the signatories list at:

Join The Movement

(This was published in the Hoot today. They deleted all of my sources, as well as the times of SEA meetings and explanation that one of SEA’s campaigns is The Leadership Campaign. Here is the full article.)

To be alive in the year 2010 is to carry an enormous burden. We have been born, due to no fault of our own, into a historical moment plagued by the external effects of two centuries of industrial development. The actions we take in this decade may well determine the fate of our species and the planet we inhabit for the rest of history.

Climate change is certainly among the greatest dangers to humanity at present. Not only due to the immediacy of the threat, but also the scope of its impact particularly among the most vulnerable people in the world. According to a study by high-level US Military personnel, climate change will “exacerbate the problems” of “food, water, shelter and stability” particularly in the most unstable and poorest regions of the world. Global stability will erode as “food production declines, diseases increase, clean water becomes increasingly scarce, and populations migrate in search of resources.” The study notes that “climate change also has the potential to create natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today.” Even the rich countries of the global north “may experience increases in immigrants and refugees as drought increases and food production declines” in the global south (1).

And when the world was hoping for a plan to mitigate the worst of climate change at the Copenhagen conference last year, our own government fervently rejected any binding science-based agreement. Instead it offered a minuscule emissions reduction of 3% below 1990 levels by 2020, even less than the targets of the Kyoto Protocol (which of course we have not ratified) (2). An emissions reduction target based on the goals of 350 ppm of CO2 and less than 2°C temperature increase, what is necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, would require the US to reduce emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (3). Our government is driving the world full speed into the worst possible results of climate change: global instability, mass migration, increased likelihood and severity of natural disasters, decreased food production and increasing desertification in the global south. Of course, we should remember that it is not some alien entity driving the world to devastation, it is us. You and I fund our government to carry out its destructive policies, and we support those policies with our apathy and passivity.

Thankfully, we in Massachusetts are in a unique position of influence. We are among the most progressive states in the country, particularly on the issue of climate change. Based on recent polling, 80% of Massachusetts residents recognize that the earth is warming due to human activity and that there will be very or somewhat serious consequences for the world. 75% of Massachusetts residents believes that the government should limit greenhouse gases from corporations right now, and 85% support giving tax breaks to corporations to produce clean renewable energy (4).

And thats where you come in. For the past year I have been working with a state-wide coalition of student, religious, and environmental groups to push for 100% clean electricity in Massachusetts by 2020. This coalition is called The Leadership Campaign, and we recognize that our state is in a unique position to affect US policy on emissions reductions. By working at the state-level and demanding the science-based solution of 350 ppm of CO2 and less than 2°C temperature increase, we will lead other states and the federal government to do the same. The Leadership Campaign is already having reverberations across the country, as the Energy Action Coalition, the primary coalition of the climate movement in the US, recently adopted our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2020.

We need to build a powerful mass-based movement for a just and stable future, today. The actions of people like you and I will determine the fate of millions across the world.

Join The Leadership Campaign! We hold meetings with SEA every Wednesday at 9pm in Ridgewood A commons.

Visit for more information.


Human Rights, Climate Change, Microfinancing, Siddhartha… and more!

This week is LOADED with events.  The highlights are a series of events about the memorialization of Guantanamo on Monday and Tuesday, a Microfinance Symposium and building tours showcasing what Brandeis has done to increase sustainability on campus, both on Wednesday, and the Brandeis Theater Company’s production of Siddhartha beginning on Thursday.  See the Innermost Parts Activist Calendar for more information on all events. Some events require an RSVP.


On Monday you can start out by going to Jehuda’s office hours from 3-4:30 to let him know what you think about the closing of the Rose.  But, make sure you don’t stay too long because from 4-5pm you won’t want to miss the panel discussion Memorializing Guantanamo: Part I (in Feldberg Lounge, Hassenfeld Conference Center), moderated by Anthropology professor Mark Auslander. A couple hours later at 7pm, you’ll be able to continue the discussion by attending Michael Ratner’s (’66) speech Beyond the Shadows of Guantanamo: Restoring the Rule of Law in the Post-Bush Era (in the Zinner Forum, Heller School). Ratner was part of the small group of lawyers that first took on representation of the Guantánamo detainees.


The series of events about Guantanamo continues on Tuesday beginning with Memorializing Guantanamo: Part II from 12:10-1, followed by various exhibitions and discussions until 4:30 in the afternoon (all events in the International Lounge, Usdan). If you can’t get enough of Ratner, who spoke on Monday, go to the Old State House in Boston at 8pm for the Brandeis University Spotlight on Our Constitutional Rights moderated by Director of the Ethics Center Dan Terris.  Student group and club meetings on Monday include Sexualities Discussion Group (2-3, ICC Lounge), Brandeis Labor Coalition (8-9:30pm, Shapiro 313), Democracy for  America (9-10:30, Pearlman Lounge) and Brandeis Open Mike Series (9-10pm)


On Wednesday morning, check out Democracy and Peacebuilding: Rethinking the Conventional Wisdom,” with Dr. Howard Wolpe (in the Alumni Lounge in Usdan from 11-2:30). Also, go to Shapiro Atrium between 12-3 to learn methods to save money and cut carbon at the Sustainability Solutions Showcase. To get a tour of the newest buildings on campus and learn what Brandeis did to make them sustainable, go to Ridgewood at 11, and Shapiro Science Building at 4pm, and take part in the National Climate Change Solutions Day Building Tour of each location. From 6:30-8pm in the SCC Art Gallery you can hear speakers from faculty at IBS and leading microfinance organizations talk about microfinancing solutions at the Microfinance Symposium. Also on Wednesday are the AHORA! General Meeting (8-9pm in Swig Lounge, ICC) and the SEA meeting (9-10pm in the SEA office in SCC).


Pardon the shameless plug but on Thursday you won’t want to miss the preview performance of Brandeis Theater Company’s production of Siddhartha, based on the book by Hermann Hesse, at 8pm in the Laurie Theater in Spingold. Student Peace Alliance (8-9 in Pearlman Lounge),  Trisk (8-9, Trisk Lounge, 3rd floor SCC), and FMLA (8:30-9:30 in the Women’s Resource Center in SCC) also have meetings on Thursday.


Siddhartha opening night!


Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a performance exhibiting various aspects of Chinese culture and the Chinese New Year traditions followed by dinner and a night market. Also, two more performances of Siddhartha at 2pm and 8pm!