We, The SU, are committed to the fight against the climate crisis. In 2019/20, we chose the climate crisis as one of our ten priority campaigns, and since then we have lobbied the university to radically act to tackle this emergency and to commit to action in its strategy.

Working with the University

In October 2019, the Activities Officer and a group of students from societies such as Amnesty, People & Planet, and the Chemical Engineering Student Association wrote and presented a paper to senior leaders of the university, outlining key student demands: we lobbied for a declaration of carbon neutrality by 2030 and to divest from holdings in Barclays.

The University so far has been reluctant to engage on the topic: we must unite in this if we want to truly fight the climate emergency. The SU Activities Officer and a student representative will sit at the University’s Climate Action Framework, where we will reiterate our demands and push for this radical change.

We fully acknowledge that, whilst the University needs to address its carbon footprint, its investment practices and beyond, the SU also needs to change we do things and be more sustainable in a radical way. This means going beyond reducing our use of single-use plastics. This means structurally having to re-think about our financial practices; our commercial infrastructure; the use of our resources; our big events; indeed, it means radically transforming our core strategy.

Where we are now

Here are some of the things we already do in the SU that we are proud of:

  • We have entered the NUS Green Impact award in May 2020 which is an accreditation programme for sustainability good-practice in students’ unions.
  • In October 2019, we held the first SUmmit on the topic of climate change, getting student leaders from all areas together and thinking about how we can collectively tackle the climate crisis. At the end of the event, we wrote down our priority actions, and from the long list of priorities, we have started taking action on some of those.
  • We have some amazing student groups who run “green” events including People and Planet, Amnesty, Chemical Engineering Sustainability Group (CESG) and Vegetarian Society. 
  • Each year we work with BathSpa SU and BANES council on the Pack For Good campaign which encourages students to donate their unwanted items to the British Heart Foundation when the move out. Since 2012 this has raised over £550,000 and stopped over 77 tonnes of waste going to landfill.
  • The SU runs on 100% renewable electricity.
  • This year we have chosen Wicked Weather Watch as one of our RAG ‘Big 4’ charities to support throughout the year. They provide resources for children and young people to learn how climate change is affecting the world and understand the issues.

Where we want to be

We are working to identify key areas for improvement and find ways to encourage student to support the climate crisis. This work includes:

  • Lead by example. Create a culture shift within the SU organisation when it comes to sustainability and “green” choices.
  • Work with the University to radically act to tackle this emergency and see committments in both SU and University strategy.
  • Provide better support for our sustainable groups to help build awareness aroudn their work.
  • Create a culture change for non-green students. Encourage non-green groups to make their activities more sustainable. Encourage and empower students without green-group memberships to make more sustainable choices.
  • Complete the Green Impact Award with a “good” rating for this year. Continue working on Green Impact through 2020/21

How we are going to get there

  • Work with our student groups to: 
    • Improve awareness around their sustainability campaigns and events
    • Provide a toolkit to train groups on how to run their events in a sustainable way
    • Encourage all students to get involved with sustainable activities 
  • Continue to lobby the University around the climate action framework.
  • Audit the SU and implement changes to reduce the carbon emissions we produce and make greener choices. We are already working hard on improving the Bars and Entertainment area as this is an area that currently has a significant environmental impact.

Climate Change Summit - October 2019

In October 2019, the SU held its first ever Summit, “an opportunity for us to come together to begin to tackle some of the biggest challenges that we face as communities of students at University”. The topic of the first Summit was climate change, and climate action at the University. It was incredibly useful and inspiring to gather students, officers and staff to gather opinions, views and ideas on how we should be driving the sustainability agenda at the university and within our SU. It provided us with ideas to action and a solid base to drive our work forward. 

At the end of the Summit, the different working groups of students, student leaders, and officers offered what they thought were the key actions to take, the important things to tackle, and ideas on how to make our SU and the University more sustainable. Below is a list of those priorities, with an update of what action has been taken so far.

Suggestion Action/Update
University to set requirements on suppliers regarding single-use plastics and on sustainable procurement
  • The SU Activities Officer will bring this up with the Director of Accommodation and Hospitality
SU to avoid useless plastic freebies
  • This is to be incorporated into SU Sustainability Policy
  • This is going to be officially a requirement as of the beginning of 2020-21
Expansion in the choice of meal deals  
Lobbying the government to reform the Education Act so that SUs can be party political  
Having a bank of links on sustainability records/policies of political candidates  
Prioritising green technologies in research in courses
  • This is going to be brought up at the Climate Action Framework, and particularly in the Research work stream
Creating a walking society to get to campus together and rewards for people cycling and walking up  
Having a secure bike storage in town  Connected to following point
Ability to bring bikes onto buses and subsidise tickets for those who cycle, e.g. a subsidised ticket from Bathwick Hill
  • The SU Activities Officer has started gathering feedback on the idea of a ‘Bike’n’Ride scheme, where a subsidised ticket/pass would be offered for the leg of the U1/U3 journey from Bathwick Hill to campus. 
  • Feedback was gathered and the SU Activities Officer is working on it. 
  • The SU Activities Officer has had a call with the Cabinet Member for Transport in Bath & North East Somerset Council, where interest in the project was expressed.
  • The University also appears keen to collaborate on this project
Improving lecture capture and timetabling efficiency
  • This has been brought up as a significant cause of indirect emissions in the UCER work stream meeting, and it will be brought up again in the main Working Group meeting. 
Vegetarian and vegan cooking classes during Freshers' Week and awareness of benefits of plant-based diets 
  • Incredible action has been taken by a group of societies who held a successful event of the kind on February 19th, 2020 
  • The SU Activities Officer will liaise with the Freshers’ Week Event Mangers for FW 2020 once they are appointed to scout the possibility of this happening. 
Having a meat-free Farmer’s Market
  • This has been achieved: it is going to happen in 2020/21
Having a cheaper vegetarian meal deal in Fresh 
  • Contacted by the SU Activities Officer, Hospitality Services replied saying that they are working to improve their non-meat offer in meal deals at the expense of meat-based sandwiches. 
Higher transparency of stats, targets and pledges between the university and the students
  • The SU President and the SU Activities Officer have been working to ensure information from the University regarding sustainability and emissions is clear and the process is transparent. 

 

For any questions regarding the Climate Summit, contact Francesco, SU Activities Officer, at suactivities@bath.ac.uk or swing by his office on Level 3 Student Centre. 

Our Impact

Whilst we already are doing a lot of things to truly be proud of, we are wholly aware that we must lead by example and improve our sustainability record if we truly want to be a force for good within the University. Of particular importance in this respect is the work we need to undertake to make our Bars and Entertainment Area more sustainable. This has been identified as the area of the SU that has the most negative environmental impact. Important areas that we are starting to tackle within our Bars & Entertainment Area, among others, are: 

  1. The amount of disposable containers, including the cups served at Starbucks, the carton pizza boxes, the containers for burgers and fries, the single-pint plastic cups and plastic bottles served during Weekend Warm Up and club nights. 
  2. The indirect carbon footprint of a limited vegetarian/vegan variety to the menu, something we have started working on. 
  3. The amount of electricity used throughout the building that is not shut down when the venue is not open. 
  4. The amount of throwaway material involved in the packaging of our coffee beans

Aside from the Bars & Entertainment Area, we have identified further areas of our operation that have a significant environmental impact, and began a plan of action to be improved and implemented with the Climate Impact Programme Board and the individual areas of the SU. They can be found in the grid below.

Environmental Impact

Mitigation/Action

Responsibility

Reduction of carbon footprint – Activities area (Transport usage) 

Review and reduce where possible the SU transport fleet usage. The area where this is most evident is the Activities area, particularly within student sport. A lot of impressive work has been done on reducing the number of coaches travelling for matches, but there is more to be done. 

SU Transport Manager/Finance

Student Activities Officers/Manager

Reduction of Waste - paper

Reduce committee papers – online meetings 

Continue to digitalise our marketing as much as possible to reduce the need of flyers and posters, and source recycled alternatives as much as possible.

All areas of the SU

Reduction of Waste - clothing

Reduce unnecessary and single wear T shirts, particularly on large-scale events such as Freshers’ Week

All areas of the SU

Electricity usage

Improve and communicate more effectively the Student Switch Off Campaign and incorporate aspects of it through the SU Operations as well. 

All areas of the SU

Get in touch

Do you have an idea that would make the SU more sustainable? Do you want to get involved or tell us about upcoming events and campaigns? Email suactivities@bath.ac.uk