Image Credit: Stephen Smith
A group of York students are encouraging their peers to take part in climate strike action across York this week. The events, organised and hosted in collaboration with UK Student Climate Network, culminate in a student climate assembly and a protest this weekend.
The student climate assembly is the first event to be held, taking place on 12 February from 5pm in Alcuin Kitchen. The assembly is to be hosted by the University’s branch of Amnesty International, York XR and YUSU’s Environment and Ethics Officer. A student climate strike is also organised to take place on Friday with students gathering at Market Square at 11:30am, before proceeding to St Helen’s Square. The Facebook event currently has over 300 students either attending or showing interest in attending.
Sarah Burnard, one of the organisers from York Amnesty International said: “Valentine’s Day is such a commercial holiday and promotes the excessive consumerism that we simply can’t continue with in a world of limited resources.” Putting a twist on the romantic theme of Valentine’s day, she added: “We protest for the planet because we love our world and we love the people in it, so Valentine’s Day is actually a wonderful day to share that love!”
Last September, YUSU declared a climate emergency, while the University has also been trying to reduce its environmental footprint. Most notably one of the new Vice-Chancellor’s first actions in his position was to grant student campaigners their goal and to divest the University from fossil fuel investments. The University has also boosted its recycling rate from 36 per cent in 2015 to 53 per cent in 2019, and in the last few months the University has trialed banning single use takeaway cups on campus cafes.
An increase in the number and the severity of global natural events has meant that in the last year climate change has become increasingly topical. Polling by YouGov showed that before the 2019 general election, 27 per cent of voters ranked climate change as one of the top three issues facing the country, putting climate change at the same level of concern as crime and the
Many link the rise in concerns over climate change with the increase in mass action and activism of recent years. Polling shows that climate change has been listed as a top concern consistently since the notorious London XR protests. This set of York climate strikes is the second set of protests within three months: and with hundreds expected to attend, it could be the biggest York climate protest to date.
YUSU’s Environment and Ethics offers told Nouse that they “actively encourage all students to attend the climate strike, YUSU itself has recognised that we are living in a climate emergency, and with this we should be demanding climate action in every way that we can. “Strikes can be extremely effective in creating systemic change, and as representatives of the student body we should be encouraging all students to take action and demand that their futures are protected.”