UCU Edinburgh members have wholeheartedly endorsed the following five points in relation to the climate emergency:
1. We recognise that there is no longer any reasonable doubt that human driven climate change presents an unprecedented threat to all life on Earth and that this deserves to be treated as an emergency. This recognition represents an imperative for us all to consider what an appropriate response might be at all levels of global, national and local community and society.
2. We warmly welcome the University’s and the Principal’s acceptance of this Climate Emergency. In a recent statement, prior to Sarah Smith’s message to Heads of College, Schools and Professional Services, he said “[a]s a global University, we are deeply concerned by the climate emergency and want to make a significant, sustainable and socially responsible impact”. We wholeheartedly share this concern and wish to join the Principal and work creatively with him in developing the necessary responses to meet this emergency.
3. We agree with the Principal that we can do this “by making sustainable choices and, through research and teaching, encouraging others to do likewise.” We also agree that research and teaching, while extremely valuable ways of promoting long term change, are not enough on their own, and it is incumbent on democratic organisations, including trade unions, to throw support behind popular demonstrations for political change.
4. We further recognise that Edinburgh University (and Scottish Universities more generally) are uniquely placed to draw on our new National Performance Framework to create the futures we desire and aspire to; futures that are informed by the values statement that lies at the heart of the National Performance Framework and that seeks to deliver on the national outcome which challenges the Scottish people to “value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment”.
5. We have been called upon to support and show solidarity with the “Global Climate Strike” on the 20th of September. UCU has been campaigning for a 30-minute work stoppage to support this.
We encourage our members, where necessary, to discuss with managers how to arrange their duties in a way that allows them to take part in this action and to engage in demonstrations. We are delighted that, following Sarah Smith’s message, it has been now confirmed that the University fully supports the 30-minutes work stoppages and encourages staff to use this time productively in order to inform themselves about the climate crisis, as well as share their ideas about how to address it.
In line with these, we have asked the Principal for two things, one in relation to Friday September 20, the other for the longer term:
1. We feel that, in order for staff and students to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities to access crucial information and contribute with new ideas on 20 September, the University should suspend attendance monitoring of students and ensure no assignments are due that day. We therefore urged the Principal to consider this and to encourage the wider University Community to mark this day in a manner consistent with the declaration of an emergency.
2. Moving forwards, we believe that a clear strategy (and lead from the Principal) is needed that ensures that all members of the University community can both access and afford the necessary environmentally sustainable choices, regardless of the economic and time pressures they may be subject to. Such a strategy will make it clear how we as a community are going to respond to the climate emergency and deliver on our commitments.