New SCU Climate Crisis Group
The new Southern Cross University Climate Crisis group had their first general meeting of the year last Wednesday to discuss their top priorities across three working groups for 2020.
The Climate Crisis group is an informal network of concerned staff and students that has grown to 50 people in a short space of time.
The group’s overall goal is to make Southern Cross University a leader in the fight against climate change by focusing on three areas: mitigation, adaptation, and mainstreaming.
The meetings have made one thing clear: staff and students want to do more about taking real action on climate change.
Climate Crisis group member and Lecturer of Politics and International Relations Dr Jean S Renouf recently co-authored an article with Professors Michael Mann, Will Steffen, Jean Jouzel, and other renowned climate scientists. The article explains in detail the three main areas of the Climate Crisis Group: mitigation, adaptation, and mainstreaming.
According to Dr Renouf mitigation requires “rapidly and decisively reducing our carbon and ecological footprint”; adaptation requires “building our communities’ resilience and regenerative capacities”; and mainstreaming requires “ecological and climate action across all [university] disciplines.”
For mitigation, just two of the group’s goals are an audit of SCU’s carbon and ecological footprint, and divestment from the fossil fuel industry by switching to solar power and local, community-based renewable energy.
For the unavoidable emissions a carbon offset program has been proposed, but there has been unanimous interest in finding a practical, locally based program.
The most ambitious mitigation goal is to achieve, at minimum, a carbon neutral, and, at best, a carbon zero campus by 2030.
During the meeting La Trobe University and their commitment to be “Victoria’s first university to be net zero by 2029” was praised, while Charles Stuart University was commended for being the first Australian university to achieve carbon neutrality.
Regarding adaptation, one goal is a climate change risk assessment to help analyse SCU’s business continuity plan through the lens of climate risks.
Another ambitious goal is to unite all existing climate change research under a Climate Change Adaption and Resilience community centre or community of practice, which includes an emphasis on integrating Indigenous climate observations and resilience practices.
Lastly, for mainstreaming, the working group has five areas they are focusing on: teaching, research, community engagement, management, and marketing, all with the goal of educating students and promoting engagement across all disciplines.
During the meeting Dr Renouf confirmed that a dialogue with Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker had been opened, and a meeting scheduled to discuss the strategic priorities from all three working groups. Professor Shoemaker has also suggested the creation of a Vice Chancellor’s Climate Caucus.
Dr Renouf said that a caucus is broadly defined as a “group of people who work on a given topic”.
“We have so much power to transition the campus,” Dr Renouf said.
The Climate Crisis group will meet again on March 4 after the meeting with Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker to continue discussion on their strategic policies for 2020. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a student looking for more information on how to get involved.
Snowy Frankland is studying a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Creative Writing