The Post: New group wants to pressure OU to divest from fossil fuels

To empower Ohio University officials who are revising sustainable initiatives, a new group intends to spark conversations about green-energy alternatives on campus.

The new group, the Ohio University Climate Action Now, brings together students, faculty, and community members to fulfill the organization’s purpose.

“Our goal is to push OU to move to renewables now instead of later,” Zak Blumer, a freshman studying engineering physics and a member of OUCAN, said in an email.

The group’s first event, called Plug Into Clean Energy, will try to generate conversations on how OU can become a more sustainable campus.

“This event’s aim is to show the university that there are people in and around this campus that care about our use of renewables over fossil fuels,” Blumer said in an email.

Not only is the organization a conversation space for students to discuss sustainable environmental actions, but it’s also designed to engage OU faculty and Athens residents into the conversations, as well.

“I’m interested in getting involved with OUCAN because I see so many good things happening around the community that are helping address climate disruption,” Christine Hughes, co-owner of the Village Bakery & Cafe, 268 E. State St., said in an email. “I don’t want the university community to be left out of this momentous time for action.”

Hughes, who utilizes sustainable practices in her business, sees the organization as an opportunity to cultivate renewable energy practices in the Athens community and on campus.

“We’re not only focused on growing the regenerative food system, but also on reducing our energy use to a point where we can rely solely on renewable resources for energy,” Hughes said in an email.

Austin Babrow, adviser for the OU Student Sierra Coalition and one of the leading faculty members involved in OUCAN, wanted to get involved with the OU energy infrastructure after speaking with university officials.

“The university faces a choice between continued investment in fossil fuel or investing immediately in sustainable energy infrastructure,” Babrow, a professor in the School of Communication Studies, said in an email.

As established through its Climate Action Plan, OU aims to become carbon-neutral by 2075.

“The more that we have learned about the possibilities, the really significant strides toward truly clean energy being modeled at universities around the country, the more convinced we are that the time to begin building in sustainable energy has arrived,” Babrow said in an email.

By furthering the discussion on renewable energies, OUCAN hopes to effect sustainable changes on campus.

“I hope that OUCAN will move the OU administration to include a substantial commitment to geothermal, solar, and/or wind energy as it rebuilds the campus energy infrastructure in the next couple of years,” Babrow said in an email.

This story also appears on The Post