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Bethan Wilson

May 21st, 2021

Take Action: Climate Change

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Bethan Wilson

May 21st, 2021

Take Action: Climate Change

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

As part of our Take Action’ Seminar Series we discussed how students and the LSE community can take action on climate change in the UK. In Michaelmas Term we were joined by Charles Joly (head of Environmental Sustainability at LSE), who is a senior sustainability and CSR expert with over ten years’ experience driving sustainability and reputational performance for diverse organisations.

We were also joined by LSESU Ethics and Environment Sabbatical Officer, Ellie Cottrell (LLB Law, 2021). Ellie is in charge of facilitating sustainability initiatives on campus and helping engage student in environmental issues within LSE the local community and the global community. The South Pole, a sustainable solutions company, was represented by Dr Maria Carvalho who is a senior consultant in climate policy and carbon pricing. She has over 11 years of experience researching and advising governments, international institutions, and the private sector in addressing climate challenges amid rapid technological and societal change. Our final panellist was campaigns and engagement consultant, Ruth Taylor who focuses on how public attitudes towards social and environmental issues can be shifted.

Whilst we weren’t able to record this session, we’ve put together this blog to go over some of the key points and resources shared by our panellists.

Is climate change all doom and gloom?

It’s almost impossible to ignore the news and public discussion of climate change. Through new scientific studies and increasing public engagement it has become a common discussion. Since the late 19th century, the average surface temperature has increased by 1.16 Celsius. Greenland itself has lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice a year (1993-2019), whilst Antarctica has lost about 148 billion tons per year. As well as temperature increases, we have seen increased ocean acidity, extreme weather events, a decrease in wildlife populations and much more. The causes of this environmental degradation are often subject to debate, but there is a general consensus that a majority of changes are due to human activity.

There’s definitely a lot of challenges when combatting climate change and mitigating impact, it’s very easy to lose hope when thinking about our environment. But hope is so important in activism. The narrative of ‘doom and gloom’ when it comes to fighting climate change is actually more damaging than one might think. Whilst climate change is a serious concern, if the narrative tells the public that there’s no hope then people disengage and become disillusioned. There’s no motivation to change practices and habits to mitigate climate change.

So what’s LSE doing about it?

A major commitment within the LSE 2030 strategy is to create a sustainable LSE. In close partnership with our diverse community, LSE Sustainability have developed a Sustainability Strategic Plan which focuses on six key themes:

  • Education: Striving to embed sustainability across all teaching and learning experiences, to equip LSE graduates with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed.
  • Research: Shaping the global sustainability debate through the research at LSE, through collaboration within the school and enhancing and leveraging the impact of the contribution into the public debate.
  • Engagement and Leadership: Deepening public discussion on sustainability across the world, by engaging with public, private and non-governmental organisation actors to promote understanding and informed decision-making about sustainability.
  • Our School: Leading by example, by reaching net-zero carbon and reducing LSE’s direct environmental impacts.
  • Investment: Making sustainability a key part of investment decisions across the school.
  • Collaboration: Working in partnership within LSE’s community and externally.

The LSE Sustainability department, led by Charles Joly, works with students and staff across the school to deliver this. One way students can get involved is through the Green Impact Scheme, the school’s engagement programme to reduce environmental impact. Students can get involved with their department/residence/institute’s teams and it’s a great way to get to know other people who work at the school.

If you have an idea for improving sustainability at LSE, you can apply for funding to launch a project through the Sustainable Projects Fund! This initiative is ran by LSESU Sustainable Futures Society with support from LSE’s sustainability team. There’s lots of other ways that students can get involved in the schools’ efforts to reduce climate change, find out how you can get involved!

Intersectional Environmentalism – What is it? 

During the discussions, Ellie Cottrell encouraged students to take action through campaigning and educating themselves on environmentalism. However, she also stressed the importance of intersection environmentalism. But what is this? Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American lawyer and civil rights activist, used to describe how race, class, gender and other individual characteristics intersect to produce specific systemic oppression and discrimination. If you’re new to the term intersectionality, we’d recommend listening to Kimberlé’s podcast called Intersectionality Matters! where she applies her terminology to multiple facets of society.

The application of intersectionality to environmentalism is incredibly important, as it extends advocacy to protect both the planet and people. It considers the inequity in environmental degradation across society and identifies the ways in which injustices targeting vulnerable communities and natural ecosystems are intertwined.

In the past, environmental activism often excluded the narrative of the communities who were most impacted by the environmental issue. For example, extreme weather events disproportionately effect BIPOC lives through discrimination as seen in Hurricane Katrina. By applying the intersectional environmentalist framework one can achieve environmental justice. We would recommend using the resource hub, Intersectional Environmentalism, co-founded by Leah Thomas, Diandra Marizet, Sabs Katz and Phil Aikwn. When taking action against climate change it is important to use the framework top make sure your environmentalism is intersectional!

What can you get involved in?

Very handily, LSESU have put together an Environmental Hub which brings together the latest news and networks about environmentalism on campus. It includes the full range of societies within the field, including Sustainable Futures, Animal Society, Eco Society, Marine Society and Geography and Environment Society. A more specific on-campus campaign is the Climate Emergency Collective who wrote an open letter to LSE’s Directorate asking for a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030. So if you’re looking to get involved in a campaign on campus and to meet like-minded people, the Environmental Hub is a great place to start!

Outside of LSE there are hundreds of charities fighting for a better environment through lobbying, waste reduction, campaigning and educating. We work closely with FoodCycle, the Felix Project (LSE SU RAG Charity 2020-21) and FareShare who all work to reduce food waste whilst tackling food poverty. They are constantly on the look out for volunteers to pick up food, to sort warehouses and to distribute. Check out their opportunities and many more volunteering opportunities in the field on CareerHub!

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About the author

Bethan Wilson

Beth’s main responsibilities are working with a fantastic team of Student Volunteering Ambassadors and coordinating the centre’s marketing and communications. As an LSE alumni, Beth strives to put the LSE student experience at the heart of everything the Volunteer Centre does.

Posted In: Charity | Energy and natural resources | Environment | Healthcare and wellbeing | International development | International organisation | LSE Careers | NGO | Public sector | Volunteer Centre

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