Emma Centeno runs for ASUC Senate as environmental community candidate

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Emma Centeno, a campus junior double majoring in ecosystem management and forestry and data science, said she hopes to support the campus eco-community through advancing existing environmental justice campaigns while also implementing new ones.

“I’m running on all environmental platforms, specifically endorsed by the Berkeley eco-community,” Centeno said. “They’re centered around environmental justice, institutionalizing sustainability, climate resiliency and strengthening the environmental community at Berkeley.”

Centeno has been involved with the last two ASUC Environmental Council offices, or ECO, under former senator Sarah Bancroft and Senator Varsha Madapoosi. She’s worked on campaigning for the UC Green New Deal by writing policy and building support.

Some existing projects Centeno hopes to continue working on are divesting the university from unsustainable sponsorships with companies such as PepsiCo and replacing Berkeley’s cogeneration plants with electrification.

“The school is currently getting rid of cogeneration plants and the UC Green New Deal specifically is advocating to replace cogeneration with electrification because (cogeneration) uses natural gas, which releases methane,” Centeno said.

 Currently, the ASUC ECO office is helping the university decide between two electrification plans. Replacing cogeneration plants with electrification is a step toward helping the university prepare for future impacts of climate change, according to Centeno.

Besides helping the university institutionalize sustainable efforts through continuing to work on current environmental campaigns, Centeno is passionate about strengthening the Berkeley eco-community.

“A really big thing we’re trying to focus on is building community and continuing the longevity of these projects because a lot of the time these projects fizzle out after people graduate,” Centeno said.

In an effort to support a cohesive and resilient environmental community, Centeno said that she wants to focus on community building by fostering collaboration with student organizations and ASUC senators.

Besides this, one of Centeno’s priorities is decentering white environmentalism.

“White environmentalism doesn’t look at how climate change and environmental issues are impacted by race, gender and class so I’m trying to support those things and make environmentalism and environmental sciences at Berkeley more intersectional,” Centeno said.

Because building a strong, inclusive environmental community at Berkeley is important for Centeno, she hopes to continue supporting the Reject Rausser campaign.

The College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley underwent a name change to Rausser College, named after Gordon Rausser, whose investment in corporations, which include those in the pharmaceutical industry, is not reflective of students’ views on environmentalism, according to Centeno.

“He thinks about environmentalism differently than us,” Centeno said. “I don’t think it’s the biggest problem necessarily but it is a problem that should be addressed.”

Matt Brown is a deputy news editor. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @maattttbrown.