Yaz is a student organizer at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont studying Environmental Policy in the College Honors Program. After co-coordinating Power Shift Northeast in 2016, Yaz founded Vermont Student Power Network, a statewide network of college activists that leverages students' unified power in order to impact environmental and social justice issues throughout the state of Vermont. Their main campaign is the fracked gas Vermont Gas Systems Pipeline. Yaz now sit on the Board of Directors for the DC-based Power Shift Network. They recently began collaborating with Our Climate's #PutAPriceOnIt Campaign after securing their college's endorsement of Energy Independent Vermont's proposed carbon pollution tax in the fall of 2016. Yaz also works in the College's Sustainability Office, running projects around everything from waste reduction and diversion to the student-written College Anti-Oppression Action Plan. In their spare time, Yaz loves to play ultimate frisbee, tune into NPR, and listen to fire tracks by Drake.
It's not really a big surprise that carbon-neutral Green Mountain College became the first higher education institution to endorse the campaign for a carbon tax in Vermont. The effort came about on my (#PutAPriceOnIt Fellow Yasmeen Najeebi's) campus through a class called Economics of the Environment, which is taught by Dr. Steve Letendre. In the class, we studied the economic methods behind carbon pricing, and we decided to organize collectively around it. This was ven before I became a field representation or fellow with OurClimate. The class of about 14 people held multiple well-tended educational events on campus, conducted financial feasibility studies on how the tax would affect the College, petitioned students with an open letter, presented to the president, and made the ask. President Bob Allen endorsed both Energy Independent Vermont's campaign for a carbon pollution tax in the state, and he also signed Our Climate's national pledge for a carbon tax. Read the press release below.
***Green Mountain College Endorses Carbon Pollution Tax Campaign***
Steve Letendre's Econ class with EIV rep Hannah Huber
February 22, 2017
Green Mountain College, Poultney VT
Green Mountain College officially endorses Energy Independent Vermont’s call for a carbon pollution tax in Vermont. Today, GMC President Bob Allen signed Energy Independent Vermont’s petition to put a price on carbon joining over 500 businesses in the State, making GMC the first institution of higher education to do so.
President Allen said, “Green Mountain has a long tradition of environmental leadership in higher education and recognized the imperative to address climate change. Economists and business leaders recognize the importance of putting a price on carbon moving us toward a clean energy future.”
Students in Dr. Steven Letendre’s Economics of the Environment class this fall researched the impact that a carbon pollution tax would have on the State’s economy and the College’s finances. Based on an independent economic analysis by the Washington DC-based Regional Economic Models, Inc., the students found that a carbon tax could strengthen Vermont’s economy creating new jobs in the clean energy sector. Students and the college administration will be paying close attention to any bill that develops to insure it is not a regressive tax that would have a negative impact on lower and middle income Vermonters.
Dr. Letendre said, “The students determined that the impact of a carbon pollution tax on GMC’s finances would be rather limited and could even create a net benefit due to our investments in biomass, solar, and efficiency across campus.”
Students in the class did extensive outreach on campus and hosted an information session in November with a representative from Energy Independence Vermont to gain campus-wide support. GMC senior Yasmeen Najeebi led the organizing effort, and is continuing student organizing work around the carbon tax with OurClimate and Vermont Student Power Network.
GMC was recently ranked as the nation’s top baccalaureate institution for sustainability by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. In 2011, GMC was the first Vermont College to achieve climate neutrality through investments in efficiency and renewable energy and the purchase of carbon offsets.
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Vermont Student Power Network leadership team at Maple Mosaic event last weekend