Students Fought Against GCC By Andreas Andrea Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown Law Center students are proclaiming success in their campaign to affect changes to the Global Climate Coalition, an organization that defines itself on its Web site as “a voice for business in the global warming debate.”

General Motors has withdrawn from the GCC, which has recently restructured itself so that it no longer contains corporate members, according to Patrick Wojahn (LAW ’02), chair of the Environmental Committee of Georgetown’s chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild.

However, Frank Maisano, spokesman for the GCC, would not say that student pressure caused the change in structure and that “there were a lot of factors involved.” Under the new structure, individual corporate membership is restricted and only trade associations will be eligible for membership, according to a GCC press release.

Students accuse the GCC of being the “NRA of global warming. . The Global Climate Coalition is a corporate interest group. Its purpose was to lobby Congress; it spent about a million dollars per year fighting any government efforts to do anything about global warning. It also did public misinformation campaigns and tried to defeat the scientific consensus that was developing around global warming,” Wojahn said.

Both sides in this issue accuse each other of dirty practices. “When we were attacked by the other side, they were less than honest. They used information from the early 1990s to attack us, and the coalition has come a long way since then. It’s being disingenuous,” Maisano said.

Masiano said that the GCC decided to restructure itself primarily to bring the focus of the dialogue concerning global warming back to the issues at hand. The GCC advocates the technology-based market solutions route to stopping global warming, as opposed to the Kyoto Protocol. “There are more important questions to us than ‘you belong to this group or that group,’ which is what our opponents tend to do. To us, that is a distraction from the real debate that needs to be discussed,” he said.

The Kyoto Protocol, which the environmental committee supports, is a comprehensive international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions released into the air, Wojahn said.

“We can oppose the Kyoto Protocol and still do what is right and best for our environment and our economy,” Masiano said.

According to Wojahn’s release, a resolution was pending before the Georgetown board of directors committee on investment and social responsibility to divest from all corporations that were members of the GCC.

Different environmental groups at about 20 universities including Harvard, Stanford and the University of Michigan have made similar efforts. “This was part of a nationwide campaign,” Wojahn said.

Although the movement was conducted primarily by law students, the environmental committee received assistance from Eco-Action, Georgetown’s environmental group on the main campus. “Eco-Action was helping here. They were helping to get petition signatures, contacting professors; we had a protest in front of the General otors protest earlier this spring. They are a big help in doing a lot of the work I could not do because I am here at the law campus,” Wojahn said.

The committee was also helped by Ozone Action, a national non-profit organization that coordinated the student effort on a national level.

Wojahn said that the committee still has much work to do in order to reach their of greenhouse gas reduction. “As far as this campaign in particular we are going to be targeting the Senate. The students at other schools, as well as us, will be working to get a resolution either to ratify the Kyoto Protocol or else to just reduce the number of greenhouse gases that are released into our atmosphere,” he said.

The committee is also working on improving the Law Center’s recycling program and on having different forums on current environmental law issues, he said.

The Enviromental Committee is a part of the Georgetown Law Center’s chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild, a national organization of lawyers and law students that includes both academic and geographic chapters. Georgetown’s chapter also has a human rights committee.

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