A 'Women and Climate Justice' panel was organised for Green WeekBELLE GEORGE

The CUSU Ethical Affairs team and college Green Officers have come together to organise the University’s first ever Green Week, consisting of numerous events centred on the theme of climate justice. These events come alongside demands for the University to declare a climate emergency, to divest, and to reconsider their current carbon neutrality targets.

The events taking place in Green Week, which began on 20th January and will finish on the 27th, include film screenings, panel discussions, a vegan potluck, a second hand clothes sale and the launch of a new online platform entitled ‘Cambridge ball gown swap and shop’. So far, events have proven popular, with Keynes Hall hosting an audience of more than a hundred for a panel discussion on the topic of Gender and Climate Justice on Tuesday.

Three demands have been issued as part of this first-ever Green Week. That the University divest from fossil fuels and adopt a 2030 carbon neutral target, and that the University’s 31 constituent colleges adopt this 2030 carbon neutral target in line with the University.

Speaking about the decision to link Green Week to these demands, CUSU Ethical Affairs Officers Jakes Simms and Alice Gilderdale noted that “green impact award schemes and incremental changes are important”, but argued that these things alone are insufficient to combat the climate crisis “while the University and colleges are invested in fossil fuel companies” and while they have “inadequate or nonexistent” carbon reduction targets.”

The CUSU Ethical Affairs team has also created a People and Planet petition to affirm support for their demand that the University bring forward its carbon neutral target. At the time of writing the petition had gathered more than 400 signatures online, alongside physical signatures which the Ethical Affairs team have been collecting at various Green Week events.

Cambridge University is currently committed to a 2050 carbon neutral target, having lowered their original carbon reduction targets in 2017. After it was was recently revealed that the University is on track to miss its original ten-year environmental sustainability target by a wide margin, a spokesperson for the University noted that “experts have been working [on] how we can bring the University’s target date for carbon neutrality forward by a decade in recognition of these issues”. This is planned to be presented in a report to the University Council later this year.

The spokesperson described the University’s original targets, set in 2010, as “arbitrary and unrealistic.”

The events of the 2019 Green Week were organised by the CUSU Ethical Affairs team alongside various student societies, including the CUSU BME Campaign, Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, and the Vegan Society.

Speaking to Varsity, a Zero Carbon spokesperson said that the campaign “welcomes Green Week’s focus on climate justice, which is undoubtedly the issue of our generation.”

“Green Week sets a precedent for continuing the conversation on climate justice”, they added.


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Reflecting on the progress of Green Week thus far, Ethical Affairs officers Simms and Gilderdale echoed this sentiment: “we hope Green Week can play a significant role in building the momentum that will make change happen.”

They added: “We hope [Green Week] sets a precedent in future years for a Student Union that works even closer with ethical campaigns, takes ever bolder action on the climate crisis, and isn’t frightened to demand change.”

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