GUCA has had an active, amazing year of 2015, fighting on all the aspects of climate justice, with many new faces, exciting events and spending fun time together. Let’s look back into it and see what the next year is going to bring for us!
We started our year with January full of events, no wonder why: we had just won our campaign and University of Glasgow decided to divest its shares from dirty fossil fuel industry and become first fossil free institution in UK. Following this, we had many requests from different groups around the UK and Europe to share our success and thus we started our what we call ‘GUCA Divestment Tour’.Apart from the GUCA tour the year began with the Refreshers week, where GUCA had a stall during the Eco Fair.
On the 20th of January, we had our first action. We demanded that the university would turn on the Green Light for and to stay on the University League, which is a system of rating of universities’ environmental and ethical standards published by People and Planet annually. The Guardian covered the action along with many other similar actions across the UK.
In the beginning of February, we participated in Go Green Week by organising a workshop called “Live a Little Greener”. Students were invited to reflect on how their daily habits affect the environment, and which different changes they can make to their lifestyle to live in a more sustainable daily routine.
On Valentine’s Day, some of our members travelled to Edinburgh for the Global Divestment Day, where Stop Climate Chaos organised a Divestment Rally.
On the 23rd of February, we had a photo-action in front of the university to publicly thank them for taking an action and deciding to divest from fossil fuels.
We started the month with having a heartwarming pot-luck at Scott’s flat (activists also need a break!):
During the weekend of the 13th to the 15th of March, some of us travelled to Fife, where People and Planet organised a gathering for all of the groups in Scotland. Workshops were held on various topics, including divestment, the war on drugs, and migration. During the evenings we gathered around a bonfire. We also discovered the beautiful area, and had time to discuss both climate action and other various topics with our friends from other universities in Scotland. We also posed for a university prospectus:
And climbed hills:
Before people went away for spring break, we hosted our annual general meeting, during which new people were elected to the committee. We also did some planning for the summer and the following year. One of the decisions was to, apart from working closely together with People and Planet, also joining Young Friends of the Earth network to expand our horizons!
April and May
During April and May, most people were either away or busy writing exams. However, some dedicated members went to Edinburgh and stood in solidarity with People and Planet Edinburgh group who were occupying one of the university’s administrative buildings, following the University of Edinburgh’s decision not to divest. The occupation led to the University of Edinburgh divesting from the three biggest fossil fuel producers within just six months – which shows that non-violent direct action gives results. You can read about it here.
During the summer holidays, some of us travelled to Manchester for People and Planet’s summer gathering. During the training, we were trained in non-violent direct action, campaigning and met with other groups from all across the UK. Later on, some also travelled to Young Friends of the Earth Europe’s summer camp in Britanny (France) where we learnt more about climate justice and urgency to join many other movements and grow bigger and more diverse in order to fight climate change. Towards the end of the summer, Callum participated in Ende Gelände, where 1500 people participated in shutting down Europe’s largest source of carbon pollution. See a video of it here: https://www.facebook.com/350.org/videos/10153519411832708/?fref=nf
We started off the year with a stall at the fresher’s fair, and then a film screening during Freshers week, where we got some new faces and fresh minds to our group!
On the 28th of September, we travelled to Edinburgh for the People’s Climate Rally, and some members also went to different trainings related to UN Climate Talks in Paris, which were held in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.
On the 6th of October, we co-hosted an event with GUEST, Friends of the Earth Glasgow and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland called “Paris:Last Chance Saloon or a Step on the Way?” where speakers Tom Ballantine from Stop Climate Chaos and Ffinlo Costain shared their thoughts about COP21.
A few days later, we had our own training day in preparation for COP21, where we also had Garret and Morgan “Climate Journey” visiting us all the way from the USA. Together, we learnt about UNFCCC and COP through playing games, and listening to Živilė’s presentation on all the complex climate politics. We also made banners, since the following day we were organising an action on air quality in Glasgow together with Friends of the Earth Scotland and Hillhead Community residents as part of the Reclaim Power Day of Action.
We finished the month by hosting our usual GUCA bake sale with smiles and great music around.
In November, we were invited to host a workshop on Environmental Racism during Unicef’s Refugee Week. We saw a great turnout, and it led to many interesting discussions and hopefully several reflections before COP.
We also kicked off the Strathclyde Pension Fund divestment campaign by inviting Ric Lander from Friends of the Earth Scotland. He has looked into how much they have invested in the fossil fuel industry, which is £752 million (in comparison, the University of Glasgow had £18 million invested when they made their decision to divest). We also talked about strategies for the campaign, including who we should target and how to. This campaign will kick off straight after New Year, so if you are interested in joining, come along to any of our meetings or get in touch!
On the 28th of November we travelled to Edinburgh for the People’s Climate March. Despite cold and windy weather, we had a great time demonstrating for climate justice. These are the super beautiful T-shirts we made in preparation:
In December, several members went to Paris for COP21. We even had one member who bicycled there from London! Although the turnout of negotations wasn’t that great, leading us to a huge climate racism and inqualities, last days in Paris proved that people will take the power in their hands and will change the system themselves. We had over 20000 people on the streets demanding for system change and climate justice, which left us all empowered and feeling amazing upon our return to Glasgow.
In the meantime back in Glasgow some mysterious messages appeared around the university, including #migrantlivesmatter and quotes about climate-change related migration.
Finally, together with Friends of the Earth Scotland we screened the documentary “This Changes Everything” based on the book by Naomi Klein. There was a huge turnout, and afterwards most of us left the room feeling motivated after having witnessed the stories from activists from all over the world.
Now we look forward to what year 2016 will bring in terms of climate activism. We hope that you will join our campaign on Strathclyde pension fund divestment, and that you will come along to the Young Friends of the Earth Europe summer gathering which will be held in Scotland!
Looking forward seeing you again!