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When we compare the “greenness” of university campuses in the UK, Lancaster overshadows the majority through its environmentally-friendly thinking. We lead the charts by having the Innovation Hub, Green Lancaster, a wind turbine, Edible Campus, and much more. The Divestment campaign, and plans for new turbines, ensure that Lancaster continuously demands and maintains its sustainable image. But are we really doing the best we can? Anthropogenic climate change is happening at an accelerated pace. The great environmental minds here, both staff and students, are trying to flag attention towards it, so why is no one listening? What are we going to lose when demanding better insulation, more turbines, and more solar panels?
To understand the issue, let’s first look at the current projects running here at Lancaster: the government has set up an agreement with UK universities to reduce 80% of GHG (greenhouse gases) by the year 2050. Lancaster University is a part of this initiative, but does not show the signs to support it. The new engineering building, or even our greenest building, LICA, is nowhere near 80% in its reduction. When discussed with staff from LEC, we find that Lancaster has the capabilities to achieve 100% reduction in a much shorter time span.
Moreover, plans for a second wind turbine have been in the running since the first one was built. The proposal still lies in wait as those higher up in University House overlook the issue. The first turbine generates approximately 1/5 of the University’s reduced energy costs, so adding another turbine would only benefit our green initiatives. It only takes 6 months to build, and has the capacity to reduce 1,600 tonnes of CO2 per year. Yet, we lie in wait.
Alongside this, plans for a large solar panel field, on unused Lancaster University owned land across the M6, is being proposed in order to generate another 1/5 to 2/5 of energy for the University. However, this too, is being put on hold, as the lack of demand and support does not prioritise such an issue. As Lancaster keeps revamping older buildings to sexier, newer models, one thing they don’t ensure is satisfactory insulation. This is one of the easiest solutions to reaching the 80% GHG and carbon reduction.
It’s not that solutions don’t exist already, it’s that there is no importance imposed onto them. The main issue is that there is no over-encompassing team that overlooks the success or the unity of these projects. And this is where students need to step in. Carbon Neutral Lancaster’s petition aims to bring attention to these projects, but also ensure a push from the student body in order to demand attention from those higher up in the University. We need a team to run all of these projects collectively, and while we are at it, we should aim for the highest possible positive outcome, which is carbon neutrality. If we obtain this constant overarching team, we can aim for an excellent outcome that only enhances the University’s environmentally-friendly reputation. Lancaster has the potential to be the third university in Great Britain to go carbon neutral (after St. Andrews and Sheffield). This can only be achieved by showing student demand on these issues. Lancaster is already leading in green innovation across the country; we need to support these actions and push for a goal, which in the long run, is beneficial to us as a whole.
Lancaster University is green… but not green enough. I urge you to sign our petition by searching on Facebook for ‘Carbon Neutral Lancs’. If you’ve been asking how to make a change in the world, this is a pretty good start.