In February 2020, 65 faculty, students, post-docs, staff members, and academic teaching staff answered a call to form a climate action coalition at the University of Alberta. Reflecting the general concern across campus about the need for stronger, more focused collaboration on climate change responses, individuals came together from eight campuses and schools. Those present also have connections to groups established at the university or in our community, including: the Arts Environmental Studies Consortium, Speculative Energy Futures/Feminist Energy Futures, Extinction Rebellion Edmonton, Animal Rebellion, Nation Rising Alberta, Climate Justice UAlberta student chapter, Reducing Reliance on Single Use Plastics, the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment, and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Our coalition is growing by the day as more members of the campus community learn about us.
The coalition seeks to advance initiatives related to the climate crisis. We have five initial working groups, which may expand in time as our membership grows. We will collaborate with other campus organizations, as well as community-based organizations, and welcome liaisons to attend our meetings as observers.
We believe that it is incumbent upon the University of Alberta, as a public institution mandated to serve the public good, to acknowledge that we are living through a global climate emergency, and to marshal all of its available resources to respond to this crisis, in collaboration with our communities. The university must work with Alberta’s civil society to develop pathways to an ecologically sustainable future–one that allows biodiversity to flourish and all citizens to live secure and fulfilling lives.
We therefore call upon the University of Alberta to:
1. Immediately declare the existence of a climate emergency
2. Sign the climate emergency declaration by institutions of higher education
3. Urge Universities Canada to become a signatory of the institutions of higher education climate emergency declaration
4. Divest from all investments of its endowment fund in companies that operate in fossil fuel sectors
5. We also support the divestment of the pension plan of four Alberta universities (the UAPP) from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible
6. Allocate greater resources to inter-disciplinary teaching and research related to the climate crisis and to university-community collaboration on education, research, and planning
7. Ban single-use plastics from campus
8. Commit to reducing the university’s carbon footprint by utilizing available resources for virtual conferencing and energy reduction
9. Make the university’s operations carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the latest
If you support these goals, we ask you to join us. The time to act to protect a habitable planet for future generations is now.