Cardiff University’s Students’ Union has declared a Climate Emergency

Students' Union
A u-turn is now taking place. Source: Cardiff University Students' Union

by Matt Tomlin

Cardiff University Students’ Union has declared a Climate Emergency. The decision came about after a request for this action was upvoted on the Union’s online Ideas portal and subsequently passed by the Student Senate.

The news was initially announced on 27th June by the former Ethical and Environmental Officer, Nia Jones. Writing on Twitter, she said that the Students’ Union was “acknowledging the necessary action needed to tackle this issue especially by large organisations such as ours.”

In a further tweet, she stated: “the Union will write, develop and implement a brand new environment policy which will holistically address our impact from staff and student travel to energy usage within our buildings and events. This policy will be reviewed annually.”

Speaking to Gair Rhydd, Nia Jones elaborated on the potential for this new environmental policy, stating that “staff and student travel is a big [priority], as well as energy usage in our buildings. That will require both behaviour change campaigns as well as direct investment by the SU to secure more sustainable sources.”
She also confirmed that, as of now, it is only the Union which has declared a state of emergency and that Cardiff University itself has not yet taken the decision.

The Students’ Union President, Jackie Yip, has since responded to the situation. In a statement to Gair Rhydd, she expressed the Students’ Union had a “proud history” of working on environmental issues.

She spoke of the upcoming year by saying “I look forward to working with our 2019-20 Ethical and Environmental Officer, Flavie Ioos, to drive forward these changes and to ensure the Union is creating a positive and meaningful impact across all we do.”

The impact of climate change being felt in Pontcanna fields last summer. Source: Jeremy Segrott, via Flickr

Extinction Rebellion Cardiff has been circulating an online petition calling on Cardiff University to declare a Climate Emergency, following such declarations from universities across the country such as Bristol University and the University of Leeds.

A spokesperson for the group told Gair Rhydd: “It’s great that Cardiff University students recognise how important this is and have pushed for their voices to be heard through the Students’ Union.

The Cardiff group’s spokesperson added, “We hope this [decision by the Union sends] a clear signal to the University that the time to acknowledge that we’re in a crisis and take action is now.”
The group stated its support for young people taking climate action and believe the number of youth getting involved in fighting for the recognition of a climate emergency to be “growing in Wales.”

A spokesperson for Cardiff University said: “We commend our students and our Students’ Union for their continued efforts in raising climate change issues.

“As a University we take climate change extremely seriously. We have already put in place a number of measures across many areas of environmental protection, including the phasing out of single use plastics across campus, divesting in fossil fuels, reducing waste and developing a sustainable travel plan. This remains an on-going and key area of work.”

Speaking of any Climate Emergency declaration which could be made by the University as a result of the ongoing petition, they added that “we want any declaration we make to be a credible call to action, backed up by evidence and plans. This will take a little time to assemble but will be all the more effective for that.”

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