Sustainable Development Goals


Students taking action to fight climate change

Hundreds of students at UCL have come together to inspire action that combats the climate crisis, from lobbying governments to holding vegan brownie bakes.

Image: Aliza Ayaz, the Climate Action Society’s founder with Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme

8 January 2021

“We wanted to show the power and potential of the youth,” says Aliza Ayaz (MSc UCL Epidemiology & Public Health), who founded the Students’ Union UCL Climate Action Society in 2018. “We wanted to tackle the urgent global crisis in a way that didn’t seem to be happening at that point, either by individuals or sector-wide.”

The society’s membership has since risen to almost 300 students, staff and alumni, with a mailing list of 7,000. Among the events it organised in 2020 were a zero-waste workshop and a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Panel’ with more than 200 online attendees.

Its Social Week – hosted completely online – included climate debates, vegan brownie bakes and a climate happy hour.

It has also staged large conferences with professionals and leaders, including its flagship annual Sustainability Symposium, hosted in collaboration with more than 40 other UK student societies.

Our society is simply a microcosm of the immense and growing climate action movement.

In 2020, Aliza was a panellist for a British Council's webinar on SDGs, universities and students and is the House of Lords’ student representative on ‘Health & Environment’, while she and the society’s former Events Officer Tehnia Amir (BSc Information Business Management 2021) spoke at the UN’s World Urban Forum.

Kae Li Khoo (Geography 2), the society’s 2020/21 President, spoke at the global ‘Virtual Conscious Festival’ about the society’s activities and plans for the future. The society hosts a blog that tackles issues, such as the impact of climate change on biodiversity, how businesses can incorporate climate action into their business models and what to say to people who think that climate change does not matter.

“Our society is simply a microcosm of the immense and growing climate action movement,” says Kae Li. “We want to hold experienced politicians to account and convince corporates to move towards a form of business that is ethical and environment oriented. We hope to provide another platform for all individuals, organisations, sectors, and more to converge against the climate emergency.”

 “This is the only way forward and we will not settle for less,” adds Aliza. “Diplomacy and our passion sets us apart from the rest.”