VP Kamala Harris visits University of Michigan to discuss climate and environment

Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris with U-M SEAS professor Kyle Whyte and U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on stage at Rackham Graduate School, Jan. 12, 2023. Photo by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography, courtesy Umich.edu

Vice President Kamala Harris was a guest at the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus Jan. 12, 2023, to engage with students and experts on issues of climate change and steps that could be taken to mitigate its effects.

She was accompanied by U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-MI, and Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor as well as UMich  students, leadership, faculty, and staff, according to a report on the University’s news website.

“I think that we are at one of the most incredible moments of this movement—a movement that yes we are a big part of, but you all are going to be leading,” she is quoted saying at the event.

She credited the Biden administration’s steps so far regarding climate change is catalyzed by the work of activists and advocates.

Harris said that much of the work by the administered is spurred by the activism and advocacy that has taken place.

Asked how she approaches her work, Harris said,  “So equity is—for my life work, and for our collective work and responsibility—a big issue.”

However, “In order for us to address and achieve equitable outcomes, we also have to be candid and clear about history,” she added.

She highlighted the interaction between the climate crisis and issues of public health, education and educational opportunity.

“The intersections must be front and center, and always at our center must be the communities that are directly impacted,” Harris said.

To Energy Secretary Granholm’s question on which technology excites her most, Harris said she is looking forward to electric vehicles replacing the school buses currently in use.

She noted that 25 million children a day use diesel-fueled buses, and the toxic fumes are being inhaled by them and those who are in the education system, including the bus drivers.

The movement for change to cleaner fuels and approaches to climate change mitigation was linked to growing the economy and creating new industries, Harris said. “We are building a new clean energy economy – it’s new,” she is quoted saying in the news report, emphasizing that this would lead to new jobs and training in diverse fields from electricians to human resource specialists and many other disciplines.

Harris praised students and youth for their passion to improve the environment, and said they were at the forefront of the work which includes “work people can do to remind people of their rights; they have a right to water and clean air.”

She added that, “Whether you are studying hospitality or engineering or communications, that will relate to this work. There is the work about letting people know what is happening right now.”

She urged the youth to share their stories. “Tell those stories. Talk with your peers. Talk to your friends and relatives through social media to help them get excited about all of the opportunities that are going to open up amidst a crisis,” Harris is quoted saying in the news report.




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