Image Credit: Jay Dyer
Students of the University of York, including YUSU’s new Environment and Ethics Officers, Merry Dickinson and Mark Matthews, have recently been taking part in “International Rebellion;” the climate change protests that have been taking place in central London for the past ten days involved marches, arrests and wide-spread disruption. The demonstra-tions began on 15 April.This follows action which has taken place in York, such as the “mass die-in” and climate change protests in the city centre.
International Rebellion involves two weeks of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, happening all around the world.
As Merry explained to The Tab: “The government is failing to do its job, to protect its citizens, through its wilful disregard of the climate emergency that we are living in. This rebellion will continue we are told and our Government is doing everything within its power to avert climate catastrophe. We believe that we have to engage in this form of action, as for decades people have tried the traditional forms of organ-ising and yet there is still a lack of meaningful action. I can’t count how many letters have been sent, petitions signed, marches attend-ed, conferences held and treaties signed about climate breakdown. Yet we continue to pursue profit over life itself, seen through things like extractive industries, and the fact that emissions are still rising. People are already suffering and dying from the impacts of climate breakdown, and this is only going to get worse in the near future.”
The protests have been heavily monitored by police, with numbers of arrests passing 1 000, and Merry herself being arrested. However, she was prepared for it as she went into the situation knowing that they were arresting large numbers of people. As recently elected officers, Mark and Merry intend to esca-late their campaigns to make the University take radical climate action. This begins by pushing for the University to officially recognise a climate emergency, and integrate this into all their policies. Another key point for them is drawing atten-tion to the inseparability of climate and social justice, and mobilising students to engage in activism. This promises to kick-start changes to the way the University handles its environmental impact and could prove to implement the largest changes to policy made in this area in years. YUSU President, James Durcan, commented on the action of the part-time officers: “It’s in-credibly encouraging to see YUSU Officers getting engaged in cam-paigns on a national level.“Our past and present Environ-ment and Ethics officers have put an immense amount of pressure on our University to consider its im-pact on the environment, whether that be through divestment cam-paigns or joining the Youth Strikes against climate change and we’re beginning to see changes being made as a result! So its testament to the students that they are also campaigning nationally to stress the seriousness of climate change on all of us.