Following the University of Warwick’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ last Friday, the Students’ Union (SU) has released a statement in response.
“We are glad that, following students’ demands (including last year’s petition signed by over one thousand students and direct lobbying from SU officers), the University has joined the Students’ Union in declaring a Climate Emergency,” it read.
“We welcome this step toward taking the necessary actions for addressing the impending climate breakdown. However, as the University says – ‘declaring a climate emergency must be matched with ambitious plans and goals’.
“The Students’ Union will lobby the university to ensure those plans are clearly laid out and suitably ambitious. We expect a clear and deliverable strategy to be developed over the year ahead, showing exactly how the university intends to deliver on these goals.
“Given the crisis we are currently experiencing and careening towards, the current set of targets could be, and should become, more ambitious. While a target of 2030 is a good first step, we must be proactive in looking for ways to achieve this aim sooner, preferably by 2025.
“To say that meeting the targets ‘will depend on national governments (and our partners in local and regional policy making) delivering on their commitments’ should not exempt the University from upholding its own role in leading progress.
“We must push for significant action and changes in procedure to fulfil genuine and complete carbon neutrality, whilst maintaining momentum to achieve as many goals as we can in relation to saving our environment.
We expect a clear and deliverable strategy to be developed over the year ahead, showing exactly how the university intends to deliver on these goals
– Warwick SU
“By officially declaring an emergency, the University of Warwick has accepted responsibility and accountability for its overall environmental impact. With the SU’s support, we are looking forward to seeing some real progress.”
“It doesn’t stop here,” the statement concluded.
In an announcement by Provost Christine Ennew, the University committed to carbon neutrality by 2030 – which will include “an explicit commitment to develop sustainable transport” – and zero net carbon from “direct and indirect emissions by 2050″.
Before the announcement, SU President Ben Newsham said that addressing the climate emergency “will require cultural change and commitment from every single one of us but that is exactly what is required if we are to see off this threat”.
Last academic year, 944 Warwick students voted for the SU to declare a climate emergency during the Term 3 All Student Vote (ASV), with 64 votes against.
The SU’s response today to the University’s declaration coincides with the Warwick Strikes for Climate event, held by Warwick’s University and College Union (UCU) branch, Warwick Labour and others in support of the YouthStrike4Climate movement.