London goes green at UCL
15 February 2008
From 18-22 February, UCL students will be marking London Go Green Week with a series of activities designed to raise awareness of climate change, demonstrate how individuals can reduce their carbon footprint, and raise awareness of some of the most pressing environmental issues of our times.
UCL has run green weeks in the past, but this year sees the UK's first coordinated student week of action against climate change, with groups organising different events across the whole country. In London, People and Planet, the UK student organisation dedicated to campaigning on world poverty, human rights and the environment, has teamed up with the Mayor of London for the first time to coordinate inter-institutional events across the city.
Richard Roaf (UCL Philosophy 3) runs the 'Go Green' initiative for UCL People and Planet, and is also the organisation's London coordinator. He is working with Medsin UCL - UCL's student global health initiative - to run UCL's Go Green Week this year.
UCL People and Planet 'Go Green' aims to raise awareness of environmental issues, including climate change, and to lobby for a greener Britain. Over the past few years, the initiative has led protests to parliament on climate change. Within UCL, 'Go Green' has conducted its own reviews of environmental standards across university departments, using its findings to lobby senior UCL management for improved standards.
Richard now sits as student representative on UCL's Environmental Sustainability Steering Group. He explains why it is crucial for students to engage in green issues: "When you first come to university and move away from home, you have a complete break from your old lifestyle and the chance to create a new one. It is a formative time, and you can make greener habits such as recycling and cycling that will stick with you.
Going green isn't just about daily habits, but about exerting your power to create change, believes Richard: "It's important people realise that as an individual, you can lobby your MP, university, or local council to become more green, that you can attend protests about climate change and that these actions can really make a difference."
Sherina Peroos is Environment & Ethics Officer for UCL Union, where she helps to support and promote environmental initiatives.
Sherina believes that we need to ensure environmental issues are top-of-mind if individuals are to form greener habits - and stick to them. "There's a lot you can do to become more green. It's about encouraging people to make the step from apathy to awareness - and to make changes in their lifestyle that reduce their carbon footprint."
UCL Green Week will be launched on Tuesday in the Front Quad from 11am-4pm. Come along to get your bike fixed at a cycle repair workshop, learn cycling routes around London, take a carbon footprint test, meet Environmental NGOs - and get some free food.
On Tuesday evening, from 6.30-8pm, Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Environment Institute) and Professor Ray Harris (Executive Dean of Social & Historical Sciences and Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Steering Group) will give a lecture in the Darwin Lecture Theatre on 'UCL and the Environment'. The event is supported by the Provost's Strategic Development Fund, and is followed by a drinks reception.
During the lecture, Professor Harris will launch UCL's carbon reduction strategy. The strategy, which has been developed through collaboration with the Carbon Trust, sets forth how UCL plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2013. UCL has also launched a website and awareness campaign, 'You Have the Power', dedicated to energy saving at UCL.
On Wednesday, there will be a lecture on 'Environmental Disasters' by Medsin's Friends of MSF Society in the Cruciform Lecture Theatre 2 from 6.30-8pm, given by Lt Col Ken Roberts, Head of the Ministry of Defence Environmental Health Unit.
On Thursday, a panel discussion 'What Needs to be Done to Stop Climate Chaos?' will run in the Chemistry Auditorium from 7-9pm. Speakers include Laura Trevelyan of Christian Aid, Penny Poyzer, BBC presenter of 'No Waste like Home'‚ Mark Watts, the Mayor's Transport, Air Quality and Energy Adviser and George Woods of the National Union of Students.
The Thursday lecture will be followed by a Green Cocktails After Party at the UCL Union.
To read more about Green Week events at UCL use the links at the top of the article. Read the university's energy saving tips at You Have the Power, also linked at the top of the page.
Image: Santa and the Elves outside the Houses of Parliament - UCL People and Planet join with other London students in a protest demanding stronger action on climate change