Simon Bunyan 23 MEM

Climate Action through Centering Communities

Simon Bunyan — '23 MEM (he/him)
“Prior to coming to Yale, I worked for several federal agencies on energy and environmental policy. While those experiences were great, it was eye-opening to realize how mainstream environmental organizations, like ‘the Big Greens,’ have a history and active present of working against communities of color, low-income communities, and environmental justice communities on environmental policy."

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Fellowship host: UPROSE
Next step: Completing MEM degree and then seeking a position in the renewable energy field.

Key takeaway from the Environmental Fellows Program: “When you center impacted communities and support their goals and visions, the solutions we achieve are more equitable, just, and lasting.”

“One reason I came to Yale School of the Environment was to dig into what a just transition looks like. Our transition to a 100% clean economy, as it is currently being envisioned, will only further marginalize the communities that bear the brunt of environmental pollution. I’m specifically interested in how we can decarbonize our power sector and transition to a system that benefits, rather than further marginalizes, Indigenous, Black, brown, and low-income communities.

“With this in mind, my fellowship with UPROSE was so fulfilling. The difference of working with a true grassroots organization that is intergenerational, multi-racial, and led by women of color was palpable. I spent my summer working on a solar project that will be built on the Brooklyn Army Terminal rooftop and will be New York’s first solar project owned and operated by the community for the benefit of local residents and businesses. It’s a great example of a paradigm shift in energy infrastructure on the local scale; we’re showing that we really can move away from these heavily polluting peaker plants that are so often located in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods, in favor of sustainable solar power and supporting community energy sovereignty."

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