Friday 13-09-2019 - 14:56
By Liam McCabe, NUS Scotland President
“I want to feel safe. How can I feel safe when I know we are in the greatest crisis in human history?” This is the question that the then 15-year-old Swedish school student Greta Thunberg asked in a newspaper essay last year, kickstarting the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement. Since then thousands of young people across the globe have repeatedly left school to demand radical action to tackle the climate emergency.
A few months later, Greta gave a speech to the UN Climate Change COP24 conference in Poland. Having seen the impact of the Youth Strike 4 Climate movement, she declared: “I've learned you are never too small to make a difference.”
This year, college and university students at NUS Scotland’s member students’ associations have been joining them. On September 20 students will be taking action locally. There will be marches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and rallies in locations throughout Scotland, all to kick off a week of action.
We’re encouraging students to check out what’s happening near you and take part if you can. Contact organisers and volunteer to act as a steward. Spread the word on social media and through your networks.
We’ve also written to the Scottish Government asking them to make clear that students will not face academic or financial penalties if they take time to participate in the day’s events.
However you’re able to take part where you are, it’s important that we work together to make this biggest mobilisation yet. But that’s not the end of what we’ll be doing this year to tackle the climate crisis.
NUS across the UK has been campaigning on environmental issues for 50 years, and in recent years we’ve organised campaigns that have seen around 50 per cent of UK universities divest from fossil fuels. This year, we’re setting up Students Organising for Sustainability, a new charity that will get more students leading on and learning about sustainability, embedding sustainability in the curriculum, and working to make sustainability more inclusive, for everyone.
In Scotland we’ll continue campaigning on the climate crisis throughout this year. We’re working with our member students’ associations to explore how we can get our colleges and universities to do more to tackle the climate emergency. We’ve set up a Climate Change and Sustainability Action Group, involving students and student officers from across Scotland in working together and sharing ideas. If you’d like to join, get in touch.