School students protest lack of global action on climate change in CambridgeDerik Langley

More than 300 people have signed an open letter calling on Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope to support staff and students taking part in the Global Strike for Climate on 20th September.

Organisations supporting the letter include both student unions – CUSU and GU – as well as the Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU), Cambridge Zero Carbon Society and Cambridgeshire Climate Emergency.

Inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, this latest international action against climate change is set to occur just ahead of the UN climate emergency summit.

This will kick off a Global Week of Action, where people in Cambridge and around the world are set to take part in strikes, actions, talks and demonstrations against climate change until September 27th.

The letter urges the University to “support” and “actively encourage” staff and student involvement in the strikes, in its capacity as one of the “biggest employers in the city”.

In Cambridge, there will be a 110km ‘climate ride’ from St. Mary’s Church to Trafalgar Square in London, as well as a strike planned outside Shire Hall. “Bring alarm bells or set your phone to class alarm sound” to set off the protest, urges Cambridge Youth Strike 4 Climate (YS4C) on their Facebook event.

Over the past year, concerns surrounding climate change have attracted national and international attention. Protests, marches and impassioned speeches on climate change have become a key part of Cambridge’s political landscape.

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In a talk given at the Cambridge Union last year, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler denied that “climate change is an emergency”. His appearance at the Union was disturbed by protestors from Extinction Rebellion, who told Varsity that “people such as Andrew Wheeler [...] will never be welcome in our city”.

The letter commends Cambridge-based research for providing “invaluable knowledge to understand the causes and consequences of climate change”, the university being “at the forefront of imagining and engineering solutions to climate change”.

However, “until we ourselves act in line with our findings and take the brave and necessary decisions, none will believe the message from the scientific community,” it warns.

“We face a moral imperative to lead by example.”


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The letter highlights support already given by the University of Bristol for the strike, quoting Thunberg in encouraging everyone to “go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history”.

At the time of writing, the letter has been signed by 312 students and staff members of the university.

“We believe that in backing the University members who decide to take action, the University would make a significant difference and would send a message of urgency to save the livelihoods of the millions currently affected by the impacts of climate change,” the letter states.

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