Making a stand to tackle climate change

Today, on Friday 20th September, students and staff at Bridgend College joined the millions around the world who stood up and made their voices heard in a bid to tackle climate change. 

A series of 30-minute walkout strikes happened in many organisations globally and are just the latest in a series around the world this year inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. 

The College encouraged everyone who wanted to support to wear green and congregate collectively in the canteens of our campuses at 12:15pm. Pledge boards were set up for anyone who wanted to sign, pledging to learn how to play their part in making a difference to climate change. David Attenborough’s critically acclaimed film made by the BBC, ‘Climate Change: the Facts’, was screened across campuses throughout the day. We invited staff and students to tell us on social media, using the hashtag #GreenAt1215, what they were doing to in an effort to tackle climate change.

One member of staff tweeted,

“I went #GreenAt1215 with Bridgend College today! I’m helping by using a re-usable water bottle, recycling whenever I can and using my car less.”

As the first College in Wales to sign the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord, we are committed to social justice, well-being, sustainability and to encourage our students and staff to become conscious global citizens.

We believe that the greatest contribution that Bridgend College can make to sustainable development is by enabling individuals to acquire the skills, knowledge, values and behaviour that allow them to make an important difference in a changing world. The College is wholly committed to reducing its impact on the environment on a local and global level and ensuring that sustainability remains an integral and fundamental part of the College’s strategy for success.

Back in May 2019 we become the first College in the UK to declare a climate emergency, reaffirming our strong and positive corporate commitment to take action on climate change.

Bridgend College has developed a sustainable development strategy which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and has committed to further substantial progress in the decarbonisation of its activities. The aim is to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2040; ahead of the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation to adopt a 2050 net zero emissions target. We understand that sustainable development is as much about shifting mindsets as well as changing unsustainable practice.

We also recognise that our contribution to sustainability must include operational as well as educational dimensions.

Using energy efficient lights and improving buildings to conserve valuable heat, as well as planting trees and shrubs to capture carbon from the atmosphere and support biodiversity has been our first steps. We are making a conscious effort to get rid of single-use plastics by installing hydration stations around campuses and by using compostable containers for our refectories and coffee shops. We have a special group called the Carbon Task Group to make sure that we change the way we buy things, how our buildings work, how we manage the grounds, how we help students and staff understand more about climate change and sustainability, how we travel and a lot more besides.

Principal and CEO of the College, Simon Pirotte, said,

“This is a challenging agenda and the contribution required is both substantial and sustained, but also absolutely necessary.

In order to meet these commitments, we will take action on a number of concerns, mainly teaching and learning, estates operations, responsible investment, renewables opportunities, collaboration and partnerships. Further, we will continue to develop our climate change risk analysis and carbon action plan.”

The Principal will soon be going to London as part of a team of leaders from Higher and Further education, and other important groups who’ll be putting together a plan to tackle climate change in the UK.