Sam Blackwood and Kyle Kilkenny are two of Fordham Lincoln Center’s most socially conscious and environmentally active students of the 2019 class. Their #PutAPriceOnIt campaign gained instant recognition within the LC student body on February 1, when they held the very first kickoff #PutAPriceOnIt panel discussion in the Pope Auditorium, featuring important figures in the environmental community. The event, moderated by Kyle Kilkenny, saw sitting on its panel Sam Blackwood, who has been involved with the movement for over a year.
The movement behind #PutAPriceOnIt strives to pass legislation that will put a negative externality tax on the excessive carbon footprint of most American industrial firms. The movement itself was created by the environmental group Our Climate, in hopes of combating climate change one step at a time. Blackwood and Kilkenny are both passionate fighters against climate change and have recently begun to advocate for climate change on the Lincoln Center campus in hopes of challenging millennials to understand their impact on the climate.
Below, the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal interviewed one half of the team, Kyle Kilkenny, in order to better understand the growing momentum of climate conscientiousness among millennials.
FURJ: How did the campaign originate and what does it strive to accomplish?
KILKENNY: The #PutAPriceOnIt campaign was launched in 2016 in a partnership between the Emmy award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously and Our Climate (formerly Oregon Climate), the nation’s first millennial-led carbon pricing advocacy organization. The goals of the campaign are to inform citizens about the importance of a carbon price in regards to combating climate change, while also facilitating millennial mobilization and activism.
FURJ: As Fordham students, what message do you want to pass on to the student community?
KILKENNY: A large part of our education here at Fordham is learning how we can go out into the world and be men, women, and persons for others. Our goal through establishing this campaign as a force on our campus is to encourage students to explore ways they can “go forth and set the world on fire,” all the while advocating for a clear solution to climate change and protecting communities most affected by this epidemic, such as poor people, people of color and other historically disadvantaged communities. The message Sam and I wish to impart is this is not a Black issue, a white issue, a Latino issue, an Asian issue, a gay issue, a straight issue, a rich issue or a poor issue–climate change is an issue which does not discriminate and will endanger all of humankind.
FURJ: What are your goals for 2017, both on campus and in the broader environmentally conscious community?
KILKENNY: Our main goal for 2017 is to convince Fr. McShane to endorse Put A Price on It and ask legislators to establish a carbon tax. We also hope to take the lead on making carbon pricing an issue in New York Mayoral Race, through meeting with the candidates and engaging in a wide-scale media campaign. Lastly, we hope to combat the rising tide of climate deniers, both in Washington and across the country, through education and outreach.
FURJ: What research is Put a Price on It based on? What would you say to those who oppose your vision for a tax on carbon?
KILKENNY: The Put a Price on It campaign is based on the market principle that if polluters have to pay, they will produce fewer carbon emissions. Our plan is based off of that of Citizens Climate Lobby.
As far as those who oppose a carbon tax, I hope to educate climate deniers on the imperative nature of this issue. Our plan is revenue-neutral, meaning we will give back money in the form of dividends to every American taxpayer.
FURJ: As leaders in the student community and environmentally conscious young adults, do you feel the responsibility to spread a message? How do you plan to do so?
KILKENNY: As a global citizen, of course I feel the responsibility to my fellow human beings to combat the immediate and long-term effects of climate change. Through our campaign, it is my hope and my expectation that fellow Fordham students will be bothered enough by these injustices to take action towards a more sustainable future.
Kyle Kilkenny is a Political Science and Italian double major FCLC class of 2019 and Sam Blackwood is an International Studies major FCLC class of 2019. Kilkenny was interviewed for the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal electronically on February 2nd.