Extinction Rebellion calls upon University to adopt “Green New Deal”

Credit: Jordan Hunter

Benjamin Coulson

The group says UoG have not made significant progress to tackle climate change.

The first of a series of meetings was held on 6 November to create an ecological petition at the University of Glasgow.

In March, a motion put forward before Goldsmiths University to adopt a “Green New Deal” by 2020 received more than 1,000 signatures from staff and students at the University. On 12 August, Goldsmiths University Union made an announcement that the University was to implement the “Green New Deal”, with a commitment to be completely carbon neutral by 2030. 

The meeting, hosted by Extinction Rebellion, was inspired by Goldsmiths and encouraged participation from staff and students from a wide variety of sections and schools within the University, in the hope of generating a wide collection of suggestions. The group outlined eight areas in which demands will be made to the University. The petition will cover waste, food, transport, the curriculum, and it will include pressure to reform how the University invests its funds, as well as other areas. 

The University of Glasgow joined other institutions around the world by declaring a climate emergency in May 2019. This move made Glasgow the first university to do so in Scotland. 

David Duncan, Chief Operating Officer and co-chair of the University’s Sustainability Working Group, said: “In taking this stand we are affirming our belief that urgent action is needed to tackle climate change.” 

The opening meeting discussed how the University has not yet made significant progress to accompany Duncan’s declaration. Issues that were raised included that single-use plastics are still widely used on campus, and the University’s unsustainable energy consumption, which is exacerbated by keeping computers and lights on around the University 24-hours a day. A common suggestion at the meeting wanted the University to follow Goldsmiths and the University of Cambridge by prohibiting the sale of red meat from all food outlets on campus, and increase the amount of locally sourced, vegan and sustainable food available. 

A spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion said: “We aim to urgently bring the climate emergency on the agenda of [University of] Glasgow. Although the climate emergency will require national action, we believe we can still, and must, take action as a university.”

The efforts are being called a “Green New Deal”, which is a piece of legislation that aims to address climate change and ecological justice by presenting a series of demands. 

The spokesperson said the group was overwhelmed by the success of the initial meeting, and enthusiasm of all those that attended. They now aim to split up into groups that will facilitate further research into the University’s current policies and viable changes. The research will then accompany the final and extensive drafts of demands that will be presented to the University.

“Although Extinction Rebellion might have orchestrated the process, we want the process to be as decentralised and collaborative as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The Green New Deal demands will ultimately come from the voices of all students and lecturers involved here at the University of Glasgow.”


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