Vice President Community calls for university action to reduce flight carbon emissions

The Vice President Community, Rosheen Wallace, has published an open letter to the University of Edinburgh calling for a reduction in carbon emissions resulting from air travel.

“We, the students of Edinburgh University, are writing to you to demand rapid action to tackle the University’s carbon emissions resulting from air travel.”, the letter begins.

“In the midst of the current pandemic, there are uncertain and difficult decisions to be made across many sectors – and almost no-one will go unaffected by this crisis that we are living through.”, it continues.

“Yet we are living through another crisis.

“The climate crisis has not stopped, and we want to ensure that climate action remains a priority throughout this period and into the future.”

Wallace’s role as VP Community includes sustainability and environmental aspects, and their impact on students.

The letter goes on to state that although the university has committed to zero carbon emissions by the year 2040, emissions from air travel totalled 16,313,938 tonnes in 2019.

Five points, detailing recommended actions that the university should follow to improve the situation, are listed.

Firstly, “A ban on air travel in the UK is implemented as far as possible.

“This is to cover all travel that can be done by rail, and will exclude any journeys that must be taken by plane for accessibility reasons.”

Secondly, “A reduction in overseas trips taken by plane is actively sought through providing information and guidance about the climate impact of business travel.”

The next two points describe a ‘carbon levy’:

“A carbon ‘levy’ on all business flights is implemented. This is to include flights for academic conferences, research activity, commercial business, and other overseas business.

“The levy is raised within University funds and is used to fund a credible offsetting scheme.”

Finally, “Other measures are taken to incentivise travel behaviour with a positive climate impact, such as providing access to good quality video conferencing equipment.”

As of Friday the 1st May, the letter – addressed to ‘University Management’ – has been signed by almost one hundred students.

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