Colleges and universities across Britain must “decarbonize and decolonize” education to help better prepare students for the climate crisis. They are demanding ahead of the COP26 international climate change conference later this year.
The campaign launched with an online event on Monday. It is jointly coordinated by the University and College Union (UCU), Teach the Future, Students Organizing for Sustainability (SOS-UK), and the National Union of Students and forms part of wider calls for the sector to do more embed climate education in curriculums by 2030.
Institutions are being urged to meet the United Nations Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) goals and establish a decolonizing commission with trade unions, students, and local community involvement. The campaign warns that decolonizing education institutions is a vital step towards achieving a just and sustainable education system.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said that “Human beings are the greatest contributors to climate change, and we urgently need the education sector to equip learners to address this before the situation becomes even more catastrophic. We need all students to be furnished with the knowledge, skills, and values to be able to act in the best interest of both people and planet.”
The campaign also calls for institutions to conduct a systematic review of representation, including staff, students, and governance structures. It also highlights the need for ethical investment policies and divestment from fossil fuels and arms manufacturing.
Global leaders will discuss action to tackle the climate emergency at COP26, which occurs in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.