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Launching green agenda for colleges and universities

24 June 2020

UCU, in conjunction with Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), has launched a Green New Deal for colleges and universities to coincide with the International Trade Union Confederation's Global Day of Workplace Action. The initiative calls on staff and students to pressure their college or university to help tackle the climate emergency.

In a joint statement, UCU and SOS-UK said:

'The Covid-19 pandemic is a reminder that our existence on Earth is fragile. Indeed there are a lot of similarities between the climate crisis and the coronavirus crisis. In both cases, there has been a refusal to listen to scientists, to the academic community, or to the wider communities of people who are most affected by the crisis. 

'If we want to create a better world as we emerge from the lockdown, we need a Green New Deal Strategy, founded on social justice and workers' rights - and led by trade unions like UCU and student activist groups like SOS-UK. There is an opportunity for us now to rebuild on better foundations. 

'That's why UCU, in conjunction with SOS-UK, launched the Green New Deal for Colleges and Universities to coincide with the ITUC's Global Day of Workplace Action. We are calling upon workers and students together with their unions to start a conversation with their college or university about their plans and commitments to tackle the climate emergency.

'The Green New Deal brings together policy set by both UCU and NUS within a negotiating and bargaining framework. Demands include that institutions declare a climate emergency, agree concrete action plans on embedding meaningful environmental policies, climate-proof their curriculum, sign up to ethical investment & banking strategies, review food & land use, review travel policies, and carbon & energy management commitments. 

'A crucial element of UCU's climate change work has been building alliances with student organisations and their campaigns. The Green New Deal for colleges and universities which we have developed together will see our members and our students coordinating with each other to seek urgent and meaningful changes.  

'Dealing with climate change requires planning and concerted action, not short-sighted competition or exploitation. In the longer term we are calling on UCU members and students to use our guide for a green new deal as part of their bargaining and negotiations with employers to make a contribution towards that planning and action.  

'There will be no space for institutions to simply hide behind empty greenwashing gestures anymore. Staff and student officers will be trained in taking forward these claims in a systematic and rigorous way, with a highly sophisticated joint campaign approach. 

'We have every confidence that UCU representatives and members, working collaboratively and building solidarities with students, can make a significant contribution towards tackling the climate emergency.'

Read UCU's full news release here.

Last updated: 24 November 2020