Warren Wilson College president first in state to sign carbon pricing endorsement

Special to Black Mountain News
Warren Wilson College president Lynn Morton signs the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative, which urges lawmakers to support legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions and to transition to a clean-energy economy.

Following a student-led initiative, Warren Wilson College president Lynn M. Morton signed the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative, becoming the first college or university president in the state to do so. The initiative endorses carbon pricing for its economy-wide approach to lowering the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

“Warren Wilson College has long been a leader in environmental sustainability,” Morton said. “Our new 2022 Strategic Plan reflects this with a strategic imperative addressing the environment generally and climate change specifically. So it makes sense that we would be the first college or university in North Carolina to sign the endorsement, a commitment that many presidents of prestigious institutions across the country have also signed.”

The letter urges state and federal lawmakers to support legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions and to transition to a clean-energy economy.

The Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative is led by the organization Our Climate in partnership with the National Geographic documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously.”

Using the letter, Citizens’ Climate Lobby is gaining support at both the state and federal level for carbon-pricing legislation.

“What appeals to me personally is the nonpartisan approach of this particular response to climate change,” Morton said. “Here at Warren Wilson College, we have recommitted to the notion that progress on important national and global issues can best be achieved by working together, understanding our differences of opinion, and seeking solutions that transcend political divisions.

“Representatives from both sides of the aisle in Congress as well as Republicans and Democrats in public policy have worked to propose and promote this legislation, and that is encouraging,” the president continued. “Only by working together will we tackle the complex problem of global climate change. We owe this to future generations – to be a part of the solution.”

At Warren Wilson College, students led the initiative for carbon pricing endorsement, and they met with the president to present information and urge her to sign.

“The Citizens’ Climate Lobby Higher Education Carbon Price Endorsement has been on my radar since last year, when Steffi Rausch (lead organizer for the Asheville chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby) met with me along with a Warren Wilson student to present the initiative,” Morton said. “I have followed the conversation about carbon pricing with great interest, as well as other proposals to address climate change. But truly, it was a compelling presentation from our students in Environmental Studies and in Environmental and Social Justice that inspired me to sign it now.”

Warren Wilson College freshman Brittany Sings provided leadership in moving the carbon pricing endorsement forward. Sings is pursuing an Environmental Policy and Justice concentration within the Environmental Studies major and works on the Environmental and Social Justice Crew.

“I was thrilled to join this coalition of esteemed young leaders as we promoted our shared vision to create both a sustainable and economically viable future. Emboldening our elected officials to recognize the true cost of carbon takes us a significant step forward toward achieving the sustainable future we envision,” Sings said.

Student leadership in environmental action has long been a tradition at Warren Wilson College. Jamie DeMarco graduated from the college in 2016 after leading the successful campaign to divest the college’s endowment from fossil fuels. DeMarco is currently the State-Level Carbon Pricing Coordinator for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

“Warren Wilson College leads with its values, and by endorsing effective, bipartisan solutions to the climate crisis, we are setting a moral example for the rest of the state to follow,” DeMarco said.