Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University drop banner at the University of Glasgow

  • A banner reading ‘Change is Coming’ was dropped in front of the main gate of the University of Glasgow during the university’s fresher’s fair by Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University students, as part of the launch of the XR Universities movement.

The banner was hung over the main gate at 1pm and remained there until it was asked to be taken down by the Students Representative Council of the University. The activists remained nearby, speaking to students at the University of Glasgow about the climate and ecological crisis and explaining why they were taking these actions.

Vidya Nanthakumar, 19, a student at the University commented, “The aim of this action is to raise awareness to students at the University of Glasgow about the climate and ecological crisis, and the lack of action universities around the UK are taking. The University of Glasgow was the first European University to begin divestment, in 2014, and have been doing well to meet their target of complete divestment by 2024. However, they need to be doing more, and doing it faster, especially now that they have committed to declaring a climate emergency.”
“Divestment is great start, but it’s one of many things that need to be done. The University is only committed to cutting greenhouse gas emission to ‘nearly zero’ by 2050, which is 20 years after the IPCC report recommends. We need to be at net zero by 2025.”

As of 30th April 2019, the University of Glasgow held 5.49% in the oil/gas sector, which sets them ahead of their interim target of 6.4% by September, to reach full divestment by 2024. However, despite declaring a climate emergency on the 2nd May 2019, the University is still only planning on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to ‘nearly zero’ by 2050. This follows the statements issued by the Environmental Association of Universities & Colleges (EAUC) calling for all post-16 education institutions in the UK and Ireland to declare a climate emergency and adopt a minimum net zero emissions target for 2050.

Higher and Further Education institutions have a large role in educating people, as well as undertaking research and development to create more solutions to achieve a carbon neutral society. They also have the power to lobby the Government to change their policies faster.

With UK Universities failing to adequately respond to the climate and ecological crisis, the XR Universities movement, which is being launched this week, calls for these educational establishments to prioritise climate education for students of all disciplines. Students from 14 Extinction Rebellion (XR) university groups across the UK will be taking action at campuses during September and October, to highlight this need for educational reform.

With a large part of the University of Glasgow’s rhetoric focusing on being a ‘World Changer’, Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University demands that their ideal is applied to climate justice.

Belle Valiulis, 19, a student at the University of Glasgow, commented that, “Lecturers sometimes mention climate change but don’t give adequate advice about what we can do to help or be more conscious in our daily lives. Universities don’t set good examples either, by distributing so much single use plastic and generally just not demonstrating behaviours that match what they say, such as declaring a climate emergency.”

The official launch of the XR Universities movement will take place in London on the 20th September. Students from King’s College London (KCL) and XR Universities will be blocking the Strand outside the KCL campus and hosting a day of climate education.

Talks from academics and activists, as well as workshops, which address how climate change and global justice are inextricably linked with all academic disciplines, will be featured, alongside performances from local artists. Staff from numerous London universities, activists from the XR International Solidarity network and professionals from Doctors for XR and XR Educators will be speaking at the event, in an effort to truly embody the diverse and engaged educational system that is being campaigning for.

With many historical civil movements having been led by students, XR Universities aims to bring that presence and use the principles of non-violent direct action to create a network of students across the UK who actively engage with the climate emergency.


About Extinction Rebellion Universities
Extinction Rebellion Universities is a branch of Extinction Rebellion (XR), a non-violent direct-action movement formed to take urgent action in the face of climate emergency and ecological collapse, as part of the global justice movement.
Extinction Rebellion Universities support the 3 demands of XR, but also aim to create a ‘movement of movements’ that forges links between not only educational establishments, but all other groups involved in environmental campaigning, with the hope that this will make academic knowledge less privileged and more accessible to the public. The movement calls for all disciplines and all professions to be engaged in the climate crisis and for educational establishments to facilitate that process.