Off the heels of the largest climate protest in decades, students will again get a chance to immerse themselves in the world of sustainability and environmental activism this upcoming week as the Environment Subcommittee,Transition St Andrews, and other environmental groups host Green Week 2019.
Running from 7 to 13 October, Green Week will feature over a dozen high-profile speakers, film showings, discussions, fayres, and other events highlighting ways in which students can live sustainably, counteract the effects of climate change and take part in the University’s vibrant environmental movement.
The Environment Subcommittee will play a leading role throughout the week, aiding societies and speakers in putting on events, as well as hosting their own initiatives.
The subcommittee said in an official statement, “We have tailored this week in a way in which we can appeal to a wide variety of students and locals, but still get our message across about the climate crisis and what individuals themselves can do to mitigate their impact.”
The week is organised thematically, with each day centred around a particular environmental task and featuring speakers, events, and discussions with extensive experience in these areas. Forming the appropriate acronym CLIMATE, the week’s seven topics cover a wide range of sustainability issues, from inspiring international reform to encouraging conservation and personal responsibility.
Commencing on Monday 7 October with the theme “Conserve Our Future”, the week’s first event will be a kick-off informational session in the Union’s Large Rehearsal Room at noon. Several members of the Environmental Subcommittee will be present to give information about the week’s events and lead a discussion about how climate change will affect the global community. The day continues at 4 p.m. with “Ecotourism, Earth, & Ecosystems”, a lecture by the School of Biology’s Professor Will Cresswell and Dr Maria Dornelas focusing on how ecotourism and conservation could be critical to preserving biodiversity around the planet.
Tuesday’s “Lead with Lifestyle” theme will feature a 4:15 p.m. showing of “Before the Flood,” a critically-acclaimed documentary showcasing Leonardo DiCaprio’s journey across the planet to witness how climate change is affecting the planet now. Later, Transition University of St Andrews will team up with St Andrews Photography Festival for the first of three Climate Conversations scattered throughout the month of October. This forum will use photographs from the @EveryDayClimateChange online exhibit as the basis for a conversation about what students can do to help mitigate the climate crisis.
Two speakers will headline Wednesday’s events: Robin Höher of the World Energy Council will speak on his career in the energy sector and his views on the future of environmentalism and energy, while driver Andreas Rieger will discuss his 2016 journey across 18 nations in a fully electric vehicle and how the cars of a sustainable tomorrow could be run on electricity.
Thursday will be dedicated to marine conservation, with the School of Geography & Sustainable Development’s Professor William Austin leading a walking discussion of sea level rise and potential solutions. The Chaplaincy will host an evening discussion on conservation broadly and whether baptism is an ecological imperative.
Friday’s “Address Public Health” theme will feature an interactive workshop discussing the harms of single-use plastics and strategies to minimise individual and University reliance. Later, the Environment Subcommittee and Students for Public Health will host a “Cookies and Climate” event, considering the links between a changing climate and public health threats over cookies at St Andrews Brewing Company.
The week will conclude with two days of fayres highlighting student groups working to counteract climate change and leave a positive ecological legacy for the campus and beyond. Saturday’s Eco Fayre will feature nearly a dozen student and community organisations working to promote sustainable lifestyles. The Fayre will also include giveaways, retro clothing sales, traditional music from the Folk & Trad Society, and more. Later, Sustainable Style St Andrews will host a thrift sale in the Union’s Committee Room, selling secondhand and vintage clothing as part of the day’s mission, “Transform the World of Textiles.” The week will wrap upon Sunday with the Societies Inspire Fayre, where 20 environmentally conscious student groups will converge in Beacon Bar to share plans on how to move forward with sustainability initiatives on campus.
While the subject of climate change will be treated with appropriate weight, fun events will be scattered throughout the week to show how sustainability need not be a joyless burden. A bicycle-powered drink stand will distribute free smoothies outside the Union Tuesday morning. The Bike to Work campaign will host a free breakfast in Sandy’s Bar Thursday morning, hosting a wide-ranging discussion on low-carbon lifestyles and preserving marine ecosystems over early-morning treats.
The annual event comes amidst increasing student demands for climate action from the University, with over a thousand students and activists recently marching in the St Andrews Climate Strike to urge reform against rising sea levels and more.
The group organising the event, Climate Action St Andrews, has called on the University to declare a climate emergency, launching an online petition and pointing to similar actions undertaken by the national government and similar universities across the UK.
The petition reads, “If we don’t take radical action and make immediate changes to our behaviour, the world as we know it could be lost forever.” But the University has thus far declined to heed activists’ calls, saying the University is already taking action to mitigate its contributions to climate change.
A spokeswoman for the University recently told The Courier, “Universities are about solving problems, not just describing them, and simply declaring a climate emergency is just a gesture unless it’s backed up by actions.”
Organisers urge students to attend the week’s events and for them to get involved in the wide variety of environmental advocacies they are hosting. In an official statement, the Environment Subcommittee told The Saint, “It’s very important students get involved with this week so they can stay informed about environmental and sustainability matters in St Andrews, as well as meet other groups and speakers who work on committees like the World Energy Council or for the Scottish government.”
More information about the week’s events can be found on the “St Andrews Green Week” Facebook page