Students organize climate rally for American Rescue Plan funds Student organizers with the New Haven Climate Movement led a rally demanding that New Haven allocate $9 million towards climate initiatives in the city. Anastasia Hufham reports. Photos by Lukas Flippo, Zoe Berg and Vaibhav Sharma. Video by Maya Weldon-Lagrimas.
On Friday, Tara Bhat ’25 shared how her first two weeks at Yale were impacted by the threats of Hurricanes Henri and Ida, two extreme weather events exacerbated by the Earth’s changing climate. An organizer with the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition, Bhat referenced Harvard’s announcement that the university would divest from fossil fuels. Speakers at Friday’s rally heralded Yale’s rival’s decision as proof that grassroots activism can force large institutions to make change.
“[Harvard’s] recent divestment puts a magnifying glass on Yale, and it shows just how far behind we are at this point in the climate crisis,” said Bhat. “Their continued investment makes it crystal clear that when given the option, Yale chooses profit over the futures of their students, faculty, community and the earth.”
After stopping at Phelps Gate, protesters made their way to the cemetery on the New Haven Green. There, Huq and other organizers distributed postcards to participants which read: “Due to terminal climate inaction, I am grieving the loss of …” Rally participants were invited to fill in the blank and then place their postcards in a cardboard coffin.
Some participants shared information on global losses due to climate change, which included recent drowning victims in New York City, limited access to clean water and destroyed habitats for endangered species.
The rally then continued to its final stop at City Hall. Mayor Justin Elicker stepped out of the building as the protesters surrounded the steps and staged a “die-in.” Participants, including Elicker, knelt or lay down on the steps and sidewalk for 29 seconds, which Huq marked by beating on an upside-down bucket. The 29 seconds represented the 29 years of “failure to act” since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change first publicly acknowledged climate change as a threat, according to Huq.
Huq then asked Elicker his plan to cut emissions and prevent global warming.
“The City of New Haven has a strong record and we are making progress, but we absolutely have more work to be doing,” Elicker said.
He cited the city’s efforts to increase sustainable transportation with more cyclist and pedestrian-friendly transportation networks, as well as moves toward reducing electricity consumption. He reported that the city purchased 100 percent renewable energy for all municipal electricity use and stated his desire to create a climate and sustainability office.