Leeds students urge university for action at climate rally

‘The adults aren’t going to save us’

Students gathered on the Parkinson steps last Friday to urge the University of Leeds to acknowledge the climate change emergency, before marching to Millennium Square to join the climate protest.

Members of the Leeds Student Staff Climate Coalition aimed to raise awareness of the lack of urgency the university holds in regards to climate change, highlighting how they have “accepted 11 million in funding from fossil fuel companies between 2014 and 2019”.

Staff at the university also spoke to show their support – the university had granted them an hour of paid stoppage to do so.

Crowds gathered outside the Parkinson Building

Goals for the LUU include becoming plastic free by 2023 and becoming carbon neutral, and yet this is something that cannot happen until the uni itself becomes carbon neutral first.

Other speakers included Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, who gained cheers from the crowd as he expressed his support for the actions the Extinction Rebellion has taken in blocking ports and roads.

Alex Sobel giving his speech

It was clear that students want to be able to take pride in their establishment, creating conversations and collaborations with the uni in order to place the importance of climate change over “economic gain” and “reputation”. But whilst some students are undertaking degrees in sustainability, there are students in the same very building being taught about fossil fuel extraction which could ultimately lead to jobs in the oil industry.

This contradiction in teaching gives the students the sense of having been let down – they feel the university is not taking a clear stance, or even the correct one; they believe the university should actively be campaigning to help solve what they called a “state of climate emergency”.

Students made their message clear with their signs

With it being stated by one member of staff that we have “5 to 10 years” to make serious change, the question raised at the rally was of whether the university will enter into an emergency mode that is so desperately being asked of by both students and staff alike or whether these issues will remain untouched in coming years.

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