The Guild of Students is calling upon the University of Birmingham to declare a climate emergency. Please support the call by signing an open letter to Vice-Chancellor David Eastewood. You can sign the letter online HERE.

An Open Letter to the University of Birmingham: Declare a Climate Emergency

Dear Professor David Eastwood,

We hereby present this open letter to the University of Birmingham, calling upon your institution to declare a climate emergency.

Given the urgency and the nature of this crisis, the emergency must be recognised with no hesitation. Wildfires are raging across the world, we are in a mass extinction period, and temperature and ice-melting records are broken repeatedly. People are dying; we are in a crisis and should be in a state of emergency. The United Nations has suggested that the world has less than 10 years to act and avoid irreversible damage, demonstrating the urgency of the situation. Without action, the world is in grave trouble.

“I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is”. Greta Thunberg at the United Nations.

Students come to Birmingham from across the globe, and the home nations of students are under threat because of the climate emergency. In the Philippines flooding is forcing people to leave their homes, in Japan, extreme weather has led to thousands of deaths, and in Australia fires have killed up to a billion animals. Even the UK has experienced more frequent and more damaging extreme weather events, causing billions of pounds of damage.  This is a global emergency and the University has a responsibility to protect its students, many of whom are already impacted by this crisis.

As a reflection of the impact upon students and staff, I ask you to consider the Dubai campus and China campus. At the Dubai campus, the climate crisis is a lived reality. Experts suggest that rising sea levels and even hotter, drier weather will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact.  At the China campus in Guangzhou, at the current rate of warming the city will be underwater in three decades.  Your students and staff are at risk; inaction at this time of crisis is inexcusable. The students and staff need the University to declare a climate emergency and take immediate action.

The current operations of the University are unsustainable and contributing to the climate crisis. Urgent action to pursue net-zero carbon emissions, a divestment from fossil fuels and wider climate policies is required. This should start with an acknowledgment of the crisis. While plans put in place by the University’s Sustainability Manager show great promise, and the inclusion of sustainability as part of the University’s strategic framework is a positive step, declaring a climate emergency will further reinforce the University’s commitment to this cause. It will also show a clear signal of intent and will empower students and staff to address the enormity of this challenge.

The University has a responsibility to educate and properly prepare its students for the climate emergency; with the skills and knowledge to deal with the crisis. Higher Education institutions have a critically important leadership role in addressing the emergency.

Several major UK universities have already declared climate emergencies including the University of Newcastle, University of Bristol, University of Glasgow, University of Manchester, University of Cardiff, University of Nottingham, University of Warwick and University of Keele.  Please join these universities, the UK Government, Birmingham City Council and the Guild of Students in recognising the crisis.

Given your retirement at the end of the calendar year, this could be an opportunity to have a lasting legacy by recognising the climate emergency and ensuring the future for generations of Birmingham students.

We welcome a meeting with yourself, as Vice-Chancellor, to recognise this open letter. We call on the University of Birmingham to act with the will of students and staff and declare a climate emergency.

Yours Faithfully,

Matthew Griffin

Ethical and Environmental Officer (2020-21)

Tobi Adeyemi

President Guild of Students (2020-21)

Tanvi Malhotra

Dubai Campus Sustainability Officer (2020-21)

Niall Gallen

BUCU Student Liaison Officer