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AUSA declares climate emergency

Principal refuses to make a similar declaration, saying he prefers “practical politics”

By: Anttoni Numminen

Following a motion passed by student council in October, Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) has declared a climate emergency.

In a statement on its website, AUSA cited the motion as well as a report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which states ‘we have 12 years to limit the effects of climate change before we reach a point of no return. This is an issue which concerns everyone, on a local, national and international level.’

‘A declaration of climate emergency is the first step to acknowledge the situation but action must follow.

The statement also acknowledges the concerns of students regarding the effects of climate change and the work already done by societies to raise awareness and protect the environment.

The climate emergency motion which was passed in October and had over 100 signatories, mandates AUSA to lobby the University to also declare a climate emergency and draft a climate crisis policy.

In its statement, AUSA says that sabbatical officers are already in the process of having conversations with the University.

However, when asked for a comment on its stance regarding the declaration of a climate emergency, the University of Aberdeen replied: ‘This question was put to the Principal in the interview you did for the October issue and he gave his answers [there].’

In that interview, Principal George Boyne said that the Scottish Government had already declared a climate emergency and ‘we sit absolutely aligned with that.’

He went on to say that as the University of Aberdeen is a ‘quasi-public sector organisation’ it was already covered by the Government’s declaration.

He continued to say: ‘I think it’s more important to do the practical things. That’s why I’m working with AUSA to agree a statement of commitment to the practical steps that we’ll take that will make a real difference.’

‘Personally, I’m more attached to practical politics than symbolic politics. I think the most important thing is to change our behaviour and make a real difference to the environment.’

Speaking to the Gaudie, Communities Officer Louise Henrard said she thinks Universities have a big impact on public opinion and both AUSA and the University declaring a climate emergency would show a united front and make a big impact

Henrard went on to say: ‘The students have also mandated AUSA to lobby the University to declare a Climate Emergency and the sabbatical officers will be raising this with the Principal and various other members of University staff, looking to reach an agreement on how and when this might occur. The University has made commitments to sustainability in their new strategy and through various policies already. Declaring a Climate Emergency would be another step towards changing public opinion on the climate crisis by acknowledging the scale of the threat.’

‘AUSA will also implement changes in the way it operates. An example of this will be the introduction of Meat Free Mondays in Union Brew when we will not offer any meat products for sale. We are also reviewing our events programme and our day to day operations to identify where we can reduce our negative environmental impact.’

‘The University is working closely with AUSA to identify and deliver a range of actions that will raise the profile of environmental sustainability and directly address a reduction in the overall carbon footprint of the University.’


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