Credit: Ashmita Shanthakumar

Green New Deal Festival Showcases student passion for a sustainable future at the University of Glasgow

By Ashmita Shanthakumar

The group demands that the University decarbonise, divest, decolonise and democratise.

Students and Extinction Rebellion activists participate in the Green New Deal Festival to urge the University to sign up to its 60 demands, of which the four main elements are decarbonise, divest, decolonise and democratise. 

Four Extincion Rebellion activists tied themselves to the University’s Memorial Gate using bike chains to express their demand that the University sign the deal. 

Joe Hesmondhalgh, a leader in Extinction Rebellion, which was hosting the event, explained the history behind the Green New Deal to The Glasgow Guardian and how they are using this event to show student support for passing the deal. Some of the issues addressed in the deal include food, travel, transport, buildings and infrastructure, and climate justice.

Two years ago staff, students, and societies created the green new deal, a list of 60 demands for tasks that the University must undertake to become more sustainable. The deal was researched for seven to eight months before being published in February 2020. 

The deal has been pushed back because of Covid-19, but activists have been using the momentum to address the climate crisis in the wake of COP26 to push the University’s principal Anton Muscatelli to sign the Green New Deal.

The deal has already been endorsed by the Student Representative Council (SRC), the University and College Union (UCU) Glasgow branch, and has 500 signatures. It has not been signed by Anton Muscatelli, the University’s principal, who met with the group on 28 October, and only a small number of the demands have been met.

Despite the yellow weather warning in place at the time of the festival, students came out to talk about climate justice and show their support for the deal.

Amongst the speakers was local councillor for Hillhead, Martha Waldrop, of the Scottish Greens. She expressed her support for the deal and discussed some of the council’s efforts in sustainability as well. These included cancelling a road building project in the East End, which saved a park as a result. She talked about the lack of action when it comes to climate change and how we need to protect the future for young people.

David, the Environmental Representative for the SRC, discussed his belief that Scottish Universities are run like businesses, and in order to fulfill the demands of the deal they need to redo their profit-focused infrastructure to focus on the students.  

Other speakers talked about upcoming events such as Glasgow University Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST), who discussed the Youth Hub running at the QMU during COP26, Jaime from the Centre of Sustainability Solutions who helped offer dialogue for making change, and Pierre from Climate Fresk who hosted a mini workshop on the science behind climate change.

In addition to speakers there was live poetry, music, and hot vegan food available.


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