Friday, October 4, 2019

Thousands of Colleges and Universities Have Declared Climate Emergencies

Higher education institutions are coming together to declare a climate emergency and collectively commit to action. Thousands of colleges and universities around the world have made declarations "in recognition of the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change".  These schools join thousands of emergency declarations around the world.

As illustrated by the climate strikes, students are leading the charge to demand climate action. "Young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives which directly involve the youth in this critical work are a valuable contribution to achieving environmental sustainability," UNEP executive director Inger Andersen said.

More than 8,800 colleges and universities have adopted a three point plan to combat the crisis. Many have developed detailed plans to achieve this goal and forward looking schools have already achieved carbon neutrality. In April Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology announced it has achieved carbon neutrality.

The three-point plan:
  1. Commit to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest
  2. Mobilizing more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation
  3. Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curricula, campus, and community outreach programs
The three point plan was laid out in a letter that was organized by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), Second Nature, and UN Environment Program's (UNEP) Youth and Education Alliance.

"The young minds that are shaped by our institutions must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges of climate change," the letter says. "We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a greener and cleaner future for all."

Institutions of higher learning in 24 countries have signed the declaration including seven in the U.S. Most recently the University of California has signed-on. UC President Janet Napolitano and all 10 UC chancellors have signed a climate emergency declaration letter that recognizes, "the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change."

Last week ten universities in Quebec came together to declare such an emergency. By the end of this year it is hoped that a total of at least 10,000 colleges and universities will make similar declarations. Other institutions and governments are invited to declare a climate emergency and commit to urgent action. 

Here is the letter in its entirety:
As institutions and networks of higher and further education from across the world, we collectively declare a Climate Emergency in recognition of the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change.

The young minds that are shaped by our institutions must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and capability to respond to the ever-growing challenges of climate change. We all need to work together to nurture a habitable planet for future generations and to play our part in building a greener and cleaner future for all.

We are today committing to collectively step up to the challenge by supporting a three-point plan which includes:

Mobilizing more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation;
Committing to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest;
Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curriculum, campus and community outreach programmes.

We call on governments and other education institutions to join us in declaring a Climate Emergency and back this up with actions that will help create a better future for both people and our planet.

No comments: