The three trade unions at the University of Leeds – UCU, Unite and Unison – have joined forces to raise concerns about the University’s response to the climate crisis.
A new briefing note, written for members of the University’s Council, argues that the institution is “not treating this crisis like a crisis” and risks failing in its responsibility to rapidly lower its carbon emissions.
The briefing note has been sent to members of Council alongside the papers for their meeting on Thursday 25 November.
The University Council approved seven commitments to tackling the climate crisis in July 2019, yet it still does not have a plan in place for achieving those goals. On Thursday, Council members will finally have the chance to review and approve a Climate Plan and Net Zero Plan.
Staff, students and alumni have been calling for quicker action on the climate emergency for many years, but they feel that progress to date has been frustratingly slow.
If you’d like to get involved with this work at Leeds, you can join the UCU branch Climate and Ecological Emergency Working Group – email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Briefing note from the three trade unions to accompany the Climate Plan at Council on 25 November 2021
Dear Council members,
We write as the three recognised trade unions at the University to share with you our thoughts and concerns about the Climate Plan, which is being presented to you for discussion on 25 November.
We are pleased that you are finally getting the opportunity to review the Climate Plan. You may remember, it was July 2019 when you approved the Seven Climate Principles, including the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Frustratingly, this Plan has therefore taken nearly two and half years to materialise. It seems clear to us that the University is not treating this crisis like a crisis.
Our members feel strongly that this institution must take a leadership role and demonstrate to organisations across the city and around the world what can and should be done to avert climate catastrophe. We therefore encourage you to approve the Climate Plan, and to push for key strategies going forward that will ensure we can deliver on these goals.
1. Accountability. Emissions data for the University are not easy to find. But during the 19/20 academic year, when many staff and students were away from campus due to the pandemic, our Scope I and II emissions were higher than the previous year. This increase in emissions since July 2019 when the Climate Principles were approved is clearly not good enough. The University must openly publish its emissions every year, and those emissions must drop rapidly as we head towards 2030. Cumulative emissions are what really matters, so we must act fast and not simply delay any action until the latter part of this decade. To do so would be a dereliction of responsibility.
2. Finance. We understand that £150 million will be invested in trying to achieve our 2030 net-zero goal. This investment must be front loaded so that we can drastically cut our emissions in the next few years. It cannot be pushed towards the end of this decade. The University must also commit funding to achieving the other six Climate Principles, which will not be possible without dedicated resource allocation.
3. Governance. Staff, trade unions and students must be given a seat at the table in discussions about the climate crisis. We have the knowledge, skills and influence to help create change at the University. We can help overcome challenges, spot opportunities, and achieve buy-in from the community at large for this new climate agenda. As a minimum, we must be part of any new Sustainability working groups that report into Council.
The University has taken far too long getting to this point, but the crucial thing now is that we can push on and implement changes at pace. That cannot and should not be done whilst side-lining staff and students, as we have been for the last six months of the development of this Climate Plan.
We are ready and waiting to collaborate on this issue – the greatest issue of our time. We hope Council members will support our calls above to ensure these vital climate commitments are successfully met.
Chloe Wallace: Branch President, Leeds University UCU
Jo Westerman: Branch Chair, Leeds University Unite
Nick Allen: Branch Chair: Leeds University Unison
This page was last updated on 30 November 2021