LUCE WORKING GROUP - PRESS RELEASE 23/11/20

Response to Lancaster University’s declaration of a climate emergency and aim to become carbon neutral by 2035

Lancaster University staff and students involved in the LU Climate Emergency Working Group (LUCE) have welcomed Lancaster University’s announcement that it will aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035.

LUCE has been campaigning for Lancaster University to declare and act on the climate and ecological emergency since the summer of 2019. The campaign was initiated by Emily Heath whose petition with more than 2,100 signatures was presented to the VC and other senior managers in December 2019.

Emily said "I am relieved that Lancaster University has finally recognised the urgency of acting to reduce the institution's carbon emissions and ecological impacts. Now the hard work begins of putting environmental sustainability at the heart of everything we do, and phasing out fossil fuels. There's a long way to go and it won't be easy. We need everyone to work together and be willing to do things differently to achieve the target of becoming carbon neutral by 2035."

Darren Axe, Green Lancaster Manager, said: "It's great to see the University responding to the severity of the climate emergency with this declaration. A huge credit is due to the students and staff on the Climate Emergency campaign team who put in a lot of volunteer time and effort to make the case to the University. Their actions included a packed-out Global Climate Strike event in Alexandra Square back in September 2019. It is vital now that the University prioritises a well-coordinated and funded action plan on decarbonisation and tackling the equally severe ecological emergency and biodiversity crisis. The good news is that many Natural Climate Solutions can help mitigate climate change and enhance biodiversity, and Lancaster is well placed to deliver on such solutions."

Ondřej Boček is a Lancaster University student and member of LUXR (Extinction Rebellion). Ondřej said: “While this is good news and I am certainly excited about it, I have mixed feelings. It took the University more than a year to prepare this statement, and there’s still no published plan outlining how carbon neutrality will be achieved. Investigations by LUXR revealed that in the 2019/20 financial year, LU invested at least £252k into fossil fuels-related companies. It’s still unclear whether LU plans to divest from these, or whether they do not count investments as a part of their carbon footprint. In this regard, I am quite disappointed.”

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Photo shows from left to right; Prof Rebecca Willis, Dr. Emily Heath, Darren Axe and Victoria Hatch Members of the climate emergency campaign team (L-R: Prof. Rebecca Willis, Dr. Emily Heath, Darren Axe and Victoria Hatch) in Alexandra Square in December 2019 before handing their petition with over 2,100 names to Lancaster University senior management.

Crowd of protesters The Lancaster University Global Climate Strike on Friday 20th September 2019 organised by the Lancaster University Climate Emergency campaign group.