< News

SOS-UK Trustee Emma De Saram on climate justice and inclusion

July 3, 2023
Emma De Saram, Climate Justice Activist, SOS-UK Trustee and President of Exeter Students' Guild 2023/24

SOS-UK Trustee Emma De Saram spoke alongside our co-director for Inclusion and Climate Justice Manu Maunganidze at the Justice and Inclusion plenary of EAUC's annual conference last week. Below are Emma's reflections on climate justice and inclusion, following the event:

It was a pleasure to speak on the opening panel of the EAUC conference at the University of Bath yesterday!

My reflections on justice and inclusion in environmental & climate decision-making in education?

👇🌎 Every role, every sector, every degree must by necessity now incorporate and reflect the urgency of the climate crisis. This is not a niche issue - it is literally life or death.

👉 But we cannot let the urgency of the situation be an excuse for exclusion and replicating the same systemic inequalities & attitudes that led us to this crisis. We need leaders to engage with the climate & environmental crises on an emotional human level. That requires courage.

🤝 Disability, race and gender are all factors affecting the ability of students & staff to have a seat and voice at the table. We have to do all this work at once.

🌍 Younger people will have to deal with the consequences of climate change for the longest - by the time I’m 50, between 1-3 billion people will be living outside conditions for human survival (Lenton et al. 2020).

⚖ The question comes down to, who is most affected, and who has the power to make the decisions?

💲 Young people cannot be expected to do this work for free - we need to be financially supported in working alongside our studies or jobs to take effective climate action.

⛽❌ At present, the first solution we all have to advocate for is an end to new oil & gas - we must be demanding turning off the taps to the main driver of the climate emergency. We cannot just look to our government to lead the way - Universities have an obligation to lead the way.

💚 It was great to be representing students and the University of Exeter and the University of Exeter Students'​ Guild. These opportunities to connect with amazing leaders in the education sector, most of whom are taking on climate & sustainability voluntarily, are invaluable.

Thank you to the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education for having me. These spaces are so needed and it’s wonderful to be invited to share my life experiences as an elected student representative and climate justice activist.