Words and image by Robyn Wood
A new group of UniSA students, staff and alumni is forming to ask the University to show full leadership on climate change. The UniSA group is part of Fossil Free Universities, a global grassroots student network aiming to ensure there are ethical and sustainable investments at their universities.
We join students from all around the world in asking our universities to divest from fossil fuel industries which profit from polluting our atmosphere with carbon emissions. We ask our universities to stop investing, supporting or accepting donations from companies involved in the gas, petroleum and coal industries. The team at Monash University in Melbourne has already successfully worked with their university to establish an investment advisory committee that could direct the university to stop investing in coal and gas.
UniSA already endorses a commitment to sustainability in its Vision, Mission and Values:
‘UniSA contributes to environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable development, and we aim to reduce our own environmental impact.’
‘I’m excited to be to working with my university to extend the sustainability commitment to all areas of university activities,’ said group member, Robyn Wood. ‘South Australia is particularly vulnerable to climate change with more extreme droughts and heatwaves expected. This will impact negatively on city and country people alike and be devastating for our water supply and agricultural industries. Fossil Free Universities is a great opportunity to be part of a global network working on such an important issue. It’s wonderful to be able to link my passion for the environment with the professional skills learnt at my university.’
UniSA has excellent undergraduate and research programs in the environmental sciences and many courses have a sustainability component. The group applauds the university for voluntarily committing to reducing its carbon emissions by 15% of 2007 levels by 2020-22 and would like to build further upon this.
‘We’d like to broaden the Sustainability Commitment to focus on investments, research, industry partnerships and donations,’ said Robyn. ‘It makes sense for UniSA to further commit to showing strong leadership in combating climate change.’
The UniSA group is looking forward to working with University management to explore opportunities and pathways to make our university Fossil Fuel Free. National coordination by climate safety group 350.org is guiding the activities of students at all Australian universities. South Australian groups have also formed at Adelaide and Flinders universities and full training is available.
New volunteers are always welcome to join the team, with opportunities to develop leadership, teamwork, writing and negotiation skills. These skills are highly valued by employers and will transfer directly to future professional careers.
To find out more about how you can be involved, please contact Robyn Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0423 219 096. For more information visit fossilfreeuniversities.org.au.