GM Wants You to Take Climate Change Personally

GM Wants You to Take Climate Change Personally

David Tulauskas, director of sustainability at GM, attaches his vision for a clean energy future to the sticky note wall at GM’s global headquarters on Earth Day as a part of Chevrolet’s #CleanEnergyU campaign.

A student at Valencia College pledges to unplug appliances when not using them. Valencia was one of several colleges that erected a sticky note wall on campus that showcased students’ vision for a cleaner energy future on Earth Day.

Students at Grand Valley State University hold up their visions for a clean energy future on Earth Day as a part of Chevrolet’s #CleanEnergyU campaign.

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.@GM wants you to take #climatechange personally. Guest post from @davidtulauskas, GM director of susty #CleanEnergyU
Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 1:35pm

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While the topic of climate change can get pretty technical what with all the talk of greenhouse gases and carbon reduction, the truth is every single person has a role to play in addressing it.

Instead of focusing on the larger macro issues, think of it in terms of: “What can I do today in my own community?” These actions add up and the movement will build, especially when we work together and collaborate.

Let’s move beyond the politics and focus instead on the benefits of a clean energy future. After all, who would argue against blue skies, clean air and innovative technology?

GM is working with a lot of people to help steer this conversation into the mainstream. Climate leaders like the Climate Group’s Mark Kenber, nonprofits like WWF, and students from colleges such as Boston UniversityUniversity of Wisconsin - Stevens PointSpelman College and more are talking to one another about their own vision for a cleaner energy future, what they’re doing, and how we can all spread the word to inspire more action. 

We’ve taken part in a couple of Twitter chats using #CleanEnergyU as our unifying theme—it connects us with university students leading the clean energy movement and really gets at people’s personal aspirations. It gives us an audience to showcase our own commitments and our stories.

Through our Chevrolet Clean Energy Campus Campaign, our stakeholders helped organize a number of additional ways to get the clean energy message out on Earth Day, such as sticky note walls on college campuses that showcase students’ vision for a cleaner energy future, or selfies tweeted out of people holding up a whiteboard with their individual environmental actions written on it.

It’s been insightful to see what’s on their minds. At Grand Valley State University, for example, students’ actions could be best grouped into the areas of alternative transportation, education and waste minimization. Their vision of a cleaner energy future by 2025 is alternative energy and efficient vehicles.

Student Zachary Sompels states: “Only when people work and come together to a realization that our earth is headed toward a serious energy crisis are we able to unify under this idea of a clean energy future and fight for change.”

He adds, “At Grand Valley State University, students firmly believe that an informed citizen is one who can’t stand idly by and watch. This education of the public is the best tool possible for a clean energy future. Though big changes start with small steps, the real first step is knowing that a change needs to be made.”

Current college students generally grew up aware of and engaged in environmental issues. We hope they will make their values known by the products they buy, the services they use, the companies they work for, and the causes they promote. 

Students, during a #CleanEnergyU Twitter chat last Tuesday, emphasized how important it is for companies to lead on sustainability as a point of principle. Leaders from Net Impact, Dell and Starbucks added to the discussion. Boston University student Lindsey Chew recognized that many millennials have high expectations for the businesses they will be joining soon, both as consumers and future employees who are selective in choosing authentic brands with transparent social values. 

It will take collaboration and inclusive leadership to tackle climate change, but we can all work toward a clean energy future on all fronts—in our homes, communities, businesses and beyond.


David Tulauskas is General Motors’ director of sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @davidtulauskas.

CATEGORY: Environment