By Billy Stockwell, Climate Correspondent
Bristol SU's Climate Emergency Day of Action kicked off this morning with a panel discussion about decolonising the climate movement.
Today's online events mark the end of this year's Sustainability Month at the University of Bristol.
Khadija Meghrawi, BAME Network Chair, hosted the panel discussion, which highlighted how the climate emergency will disproportionately impact people of colour in the Global South.
Student Living Officer Ruth Day and Undergraduate Education Officer David Ion are kicking off our #ClimateEmergency Day of Action.— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) February 26, 2021
Watch now >> https://t.co/UVXsfaLj24
Take part in events throughout the day at https://t.co/phEKoUSzbS@BristolUni pic.twitter.com/8oc27CO2FW
Other panellists included Dr Mya-Rose Craig D.Sc. h.c., who was the youngest person in the UK to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bristol in 2020, and Cllr Cleo Lake, a Councillor for Cotham & Deputy Green Group Leader.
Speaking about how Bristol students can best help decolonise the climate movement, Cllr Cleo Lake said: 'When thinking about activism in Bristol, we can reflect on the Bristol Bus Boycott.
'That was a collaboration between activists and campaigners of African and Caribbean descent, but also students from Bristol University.
'That's what made it happen. They were the ones also demonstrating with placards on the ground.
'So let's take heart from that and learn from some of the examples we have seen.'
“Climate Change doesn’t really feel like some distant issue, it feels like it's happening right now.”— Bristol SU (@Bristol_SU) February 26, 2021
We spoke to @BirdgirlUK , founder of @officialb2n about our Climate Emergency Day of Action which you can watch now at https://t.co/qpsH9oB3qK#ClimateEmergency @BristolUni pic.twitter.com/1pEHIM31JP
Dr Mya-Rose Craig D.Sc. h.c. said that we need to be having ‘explicit conversations’ with people about environmental organisations and how they are facilitating a ‘colonised version’ of climate change activism.
‘We need to have those conversations and self-reflect.
‘This is really broad, really systemic issue that is rooted in a lot of historical aspects.'
She suggests that we need a ‘cultural shift’ in the way that society talks about climate change and how to tackle it.
Another activity to mark the Climate Emergency Day of Action was the SU's 'Foster a plant' scheme, in which students get to loan a plant until the summer term.
Students collected their plant from the Richmond Building, the Botanic Gardens or New Bridewell, where they made a pledge to return it to a university space before the end of the summer term.
Petra Clifton, 3rd year Biology student and member of Roots Community Gardening, said that alongside giving her ‘a reason to get out of the house’, the SU’s activity was a great reminder that nature is very important for mental health and well-being, especially at this tricky time.
‘I think it’s brilliant that the SU are doing these activities for students on Climate Action Day.’
Today's Climate Emergency Day of Action concluded with a Climate People's Assembly, which ran from 3pm to 5pm.
The Zoom discussion asked students to consider if things need changing at the University and whether their voices are being heard. Around 300 staff and students attended.
David Ion, SU Undergraduate Education Officer, told Epigram that the Climate Emergency Day of Action went ‘amazingly’.
‘One of the main themes of the day was making sure the climate movement is antiracist and decolonised.
‘We're hoping that the event and the whole day has inspired staff and students to take actions into their own schools and programmes to make sure that the climate emergency is given the attention it needs in our education, research and activism.
‘We're really happy that so many people from across the university have been involved in this inaugural day of action, which we're hoping will become an annual event where normal university life stops so all staff and students can focus on the Climate Emergency.’
Today's events to mark the end of Sustainability Month included:
• Decolonising the Climate Movement - 11:00am
• Engineering Teach Out Part 1 - Creative solutions to the Carbon Crisis - 12:00pm
• Climate & Health: Eunice Lo - Heatwaves and mortality - 12:00pm
• Thinking about Climate Change: An Informal Lunchtime Chat for Students - 12:00pm
• Bristol Connects Live: Careers in Sustainability - 12:00pm
• Engineering Teach Out Part 2 - Solving all the SDGs at once - 13:00pm
• Foster a Plant - 13:00pm
• Climate Change Law: Teach Out - 13:00pm
• So, you want to teach [out] about climate change? - 13:00pm
• Green Opportunities and Applications: Webinar and Q&A - 13:30pm
• Teachout - Teacher's views on Climate Change Education (CCE) in England - 13:30pm
• Take a Walk Teach Out - 14:00pm
• Student Voice and the School of Education Climate Action Plans - 14:30pm
• University of Bristol People's Assembly on the Climate - 15:00pm
More information about all of the day's events can be found here.
Featured Image: Epigram / Billy Stockwell
Did you attend the SU's Climate Emergency Day of Action events today?