Climate crisis: Here’s what Lancs does(n’t) do
Time to divest?
With activists such as Greta Thunberg taking the limelight for her environmental activism and many countries adopting plans to mitigate the effects of climate change, the climate crisis is no doubt on everyone's mind at the moment. So what has Lancaster University done about the crisis – does it care, or is it all a facade to save face?
DOES Help: Renewable energy
Starting this list on a more positive note, there are genuine projects and actions the university is taking to combat the climate crisis. Anyone who happens to peer out of the bus on their daily commute may notice the enormous wind turbine. This towering gadget just so happens to generate between 11-17% of the campus' electricity, annually. Along with this renewable generation of power comes a deduction of CO2 emissions upwards of 1,800 tonnes. Watt's not to like? (Pun intended)
On a grander scale, buildings such as LICA and County Main have achieved "outstanding" ratings in assessments of sustainability from BREEAM. Also, you'll notice, many of the university's facility and security vans are 100 percent electric which makes a considerable difference when you consider how often they dart around all day. With projects such as Green Lancaster helping the University and its students combat climate change together, it seems like Lancs has got it locked down.
DOES Help: Recycling
On top of this, the uni has fleshed-out sustainability plans that range from waste recycling to food sustainability. It's hard to miss those metal containers that encourage proper recycling, they must work as it's claimed that 60 percent of on-campus waste is recycled.
DOES Help: Public Transport
Transport? Lancs has that sorted. Considering it's a campus university, the transportation facilities in place ensure that as little carbon footprint as possible's made when shipping students to and from town.
The most obvious transportation encouraged by the uni is the reliable and extensive bus services which shift an average of 10,000 students a day from the underpass. If sitting in a steel box with strangers isn't your thing, the cycle path offers a quiet and safer alternative to cycling on the roads, encouraging many to travel greenly whilst also doing exercise.
Unfortunately we're not there yet. Lancaster University isn't completely the environment conscious, climate saving, duck loving organisation that it presents itself as.
DOESN'T Help: Investment into fossil fuels
A more subtle, but arguably substantial, action undertaken by the university is the facilitation of a Barclays Bank branch in Alex Square. Which all seems innocent enough until you learn that Barclays is the largest investor of fossil fuels in Europe and has sank $85 billion into the fossil fuel industry over the last three years.
It's not just Barclays that invests in the fossil fuel industry. The university itself invested £292,662 into the industry in 2018 and received a further $4 million from companies like Shell. For a university that appears to care about its impact on the climate, it's strange that it would make investments into companies that have the most damaging effects. So long as such investments continue, no matter the changes that Lancs makes, it will only be contributing to the climate crisis.
DOESN'T Help: Not declaring a climate emergency
Some may remember the change.org petition that demanded the university recognise the climate crisis and declare an emergency. Well unfortunately, despite over 2,200 signatures, the university did not call a climate emergency and instead claimed that plans are "in the pipeline."
Whilst there are undeniably positive strives being taken by Lancaster University to combat this climate crisis, there are also actions that still need to be addressed. Investments and an inconsistency with student desires suggests that Lancaster doesn't care as much as it seems to.
Although it should definitely be commended on the actions it's taken thus far, there is still so much further to go.