RHSU Declares Climate Emergency

At the 28 May All Student Meeting, a motion was submitted to Declare a Climate Emergency.

In accordance with the Students’ Union’s constitution*, quorum for All Student Meetings is 100 ordinary members. As the All Student Meeting was not quorate, the meeting was unable to take a vote on this motion and sought the opinion of all students through an online vote over the last three days. Following the close of votes, the motion passed with 194 voting for and 13 voting against.

What happens now?

This motion now becomes Union policy, and as such the Union has resolved to the following:

1. To publicly declare a climate emergency – this is what we are doing right now.

2. To raise awareness of the emergency, create a point for discussion and act as a body of support on this global issue – the SU President is already undertaking work in this regard and will release a blog with more information next week.

3. To give students a voice about measures we feel should be taken, and enable a forum and platform for discussion in the form of discussion groups and actions – the SU President will take a lead on this and release further information in his blog on how these discussions will be convened.

4. To lobby the College to declare a climate emergency and adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into its new Strategic Plan – the Sabbatical Officers have a meeting with the College Executive in the next fortnight to discuss this.

5. To continue to lobby the College to fully divest from fossil fuels so that the College does not hold any of its assets in fossil fuel companies, and reinvests in companies committed to full decarbonisation – the SU President’s Clean Up Our Campus Campaign has contributed to the College recently approving a Statement of Investment Policy, which commits to prioritising investments in companies committed to decarbonisation, and we continue these efforts.

6. To act in solidarity with Youth Strikes for Climate and similar grassroots youth climate action groups – there is a mass climate lobby on Wednesday 26 June called The Time Is Now, where thousands of people are heading to Westminster to urge MPs to set the foundations for a brighter, greener and more secure world; they will be asking our politicians to end the UK's contribution to climate change and pass ambitious new laws that create a healthier environment for people and wildlife. One of the SU’s strategic aims is to empower students to change the world around them, so we would encourage any student with an interest in these matters to look into the event**.

The motion also mandates the Officer group to take a lead in raising awareness of environmental justice as an intersectional issue, acknowledging the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and people of colour, and the role of colonialism in environmental degradation – we look forward to raising awareness of this as part of our work in this area.

Clem Jones // Former President

*The Students' Union's new constitution as voted for by students in May 2019 still requires approval from both the College’s governing body (known as College Council) and the Charity Commission in August. This motion is subject to our January 2019 constitution.

**Note: The Time Is Now is organised by Greener UK and The Climate Coalition; RHSU’s communicating of information regarding this event does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of the event or these organisations.