English: Climate debate regarding the responsibility of Örebro University
Niclas Persson and Sophie Brömster from Klimatstudenterna meeting Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer on September 26th. Photo: Klimatstudenterna.
The following text is a debate article including a response. The opinions voiced is belonging to the respective authors, not Lösnummer. Lösnummer is independent from any organisation or viewpoint and is working as a forum for debate regarding Örebro Student Union and Örebro University. If you want to publish a debate article, send an email to email@example.com.
An open letter to Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer from Klimatstudenterna at Örebro University
NOTE FROM LÖSNUMMER: Klimatstudenterna is a student movement that helps universities to adjust to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2020 (from the Facebook page of Klimatstudenterna). The referenced ”Klimatramverket för universitet och högskolor” is a framework for higher education institutions with specific climate strategies. The aim is to engage higher education institution in Sweden to contribute to both national and international commitments to reach the 1,5 degree target.
With this letter are we addressing Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer, the university management, and the faculty’s managements, who have a shared responsibility for the direction of the university. For us to be able to have a chance to stay below the 2 degree target, according to the Paris Agreement, a societal change is required. We want Örebro University to lead this change by developing an action plan for how the university’s emission will be halved by 2022.
Klimatstudenterna has been formed to stress universities and other higher education institutions to show that they take their own research seriously. We urge our higher education institutions to halve their own greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022. In this way the universities can take the consequences of the scientific knowledge they themselves produce and finance. In a time when science and facts are being suspected and ignored does Örebro University have, as all other educational institutions, a responsibility to live as they learn. In this case; in line with the climate research.
We applaud that Örebro University this summer together with 35 other universities made the decision to sign Klimatramverket för universitet och högskolor. It is a good start to accelerate climate work. But to be in line with research much sharper action is required. According to the IPCC rapid and far-reaching changes are needed at an unprecedented level in all parts of society to have a chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees. When Örebro University in the autumn decides on an action plan for sustainability, new guidelines for business travel and to procure a new travel agency, there is a perfect opportunity to adopt environmental goals that are in line with what is required by research.
We therefore want Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer, and the university management, to decide:
- that the university adopts more ambitious action plans with clear guidelines for reducing travel-related carbon dioxide emissions, such as air travel to be reduced by 50 percent within four years.
- that flights with a final destination below 500 km (e.g. Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen) are prohibited, without exception.
- to facilitate business travel by train by setting clear requirements in the procurement of a new travel agency.
- to provide greater financial support for support, education and simplified information for digital and travel-free meetings.
- to make demands on Akademiska hus to build changing rooms, bicycle garages and bicycle racks that enable frame locking to increase the comfort of staff and students commuting by bicycle.
It is time for Örebro University to take a leading role in the transition towards a sustainable society within the planet’s borders!
(Translation by Emma Edberg, Lösnummer. Approved by Klimatstudenterna)
Klimatstudenterna – Örebro University
Maria Soltani Strömberg, studying construction engineering
Niclas Persson, studying social science
Sophie Brömster, studying psychology
Isak Bergström, studying law
Response from Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer:
Örebro University takes matters of sustainability – including climate change – very seriously. Our most important contribution to meeting various sustainability challenges is to generate new competence through education and to produce new knowledge by employing research. Successfully communicating this to a range of target audiences is also imperative.
In addition, we should as efficiently as possible ensure that we carry out our operations sustainably. As an example, our collaboration with property management company Akademiska hus has an explicit focus on reducing the university’s energy consumption. More recently, we have introduced a more tangible goal: producing fossil-fuel free electricity via solar panels.
In our role as university management, we are required to navigate a number of conflicting goals. For example, the one between the environmental impact of business travel and the absolute necessity for a university to engage in an international arena. This calls for measured decisions that, as far as possible, are based on scientific knowledge.
I welcome the dedication shown by the Climate Students and I will listen to and receive their petition. It would prove valuable for this dedication to be channelled in cooperation with Örebro Student Union and the elected board members of the student union sections. Their mandate includes representing all students in the dialogue with the university.
(Translation by Communication and Collaboration, Örebro University)
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