‘Decarbonise now’ staff and students tell University of Liverpool

Groundbreaking ‘Green New Deal’ claim submitted jointly by University of Liverpool’s trade unions and Guild of Students to achieve radical action on climate change

Staff and students are jointly demanding the University of Liverpool commit to net zero by 2030 as part of a ground-breaking green new deal claim. The claim is being submitted by the Liverpool University branches of University & College Union (UCU), UNITE and UNISON and is supported by the Liverpool Guild of Students.

The claim is the first time UK trade unions have demanded an employer explicitly takes action to avert climate catastrophe as part of their bargaining. It covers the action the staff and students believe is necessary for the University of Liverpool to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals the institution is a signatory to. This is a new approach to climate action, with unions and students pushing for collective bargaining to transition the university to a sustainable model that tackles environmental harms and economic insecurity at the same time. The joint unions consider these actions part of a ‘just transition’, and necessary for the university to fulfil its commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the Green New Deal bargaining claim

Support the Green New Deal Claim: Sign the Petition

Liverpool Green New Deal Action Group organiser Ben Crawford said:

We are submitting this claim because we know that action on climate and environmental harms won’t go far enough without pressure from workers and students. The university is taking welcome steps on sustainability, but more is needed. In higher education, as in all sectors, measures for the transition to a low carbon economy need to be negotiated with workers and must address questions of inequality and insecurity at the same time.’

The approach is gaining support from local politicians.

Kim Johnson MP for Liverpool Riverside said:

‘As a major player in the local economy and employment market, it is vital that the University of Liverpool plays its part in working towards a decarbonised and decolonised future for themselves and the city. That is why I am happy to support the University of Liverpool joint trade unions and the Guild of Students’ Green New Deal bargaining claim and trust that the University will embrace this and set a positive precedent for the other universities in the city.’

Councillor Lena Simic, Labour Councillor for Anfield Ward and Deputy Chair of Climate Change and Environment Select Committee said:

‘University of Liverpool Joint Trades Union and Guild of Students “Green New Deal” Bargaining Claim is an ambitious and welcome call to the University of Liverpool. The claim is detailed and forward thinking – it outlines the necessary steps needed in the just transition to the zero carbon economy that our city and our universities must undergo.

‘Furthermore this is about ensuring the workers and Trade Unions with all their skills and expertise are fully consulted and engaged in the process. Mutual agreement on this document could provide a model agreement that all other UK universities could get behind. This would mean Liverpool leading the way in sustainability and just transition.’

Paula Barker MP for Liverpool Wavertree said:

‘I want to thank the UCU trade union and student bodies for all the work they have undertook in bringing these hugely important matters to the fore. I think many of the climate change targets leading organisations have set themselves are not early ambitious enough and I am pleased to learn that students, educators and our trade unions are working collectively to put pressure on the University.

‘As with any sector of the economy, a just transition is hugely important if we are to achieve favourable outcomes for environment, planet and crucially, working people. Our trade unions must be front and centre of this strategy as they, more than most, understand that addressing climate change can only be achieved through delivering climate justice for working people faced with an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

‘When power is unchecked, it is clear that the moneyed class and the bosses will not tackle the climate crisis with the required urgency because it is not in their economic interests to do so. This is why this joint work is so encouraging and I hope that it is replicated in other sectors of the economy.’

Dan Carden MP for Liverpool Walton said:

‘Tackling the climate emergency is the defining challenge of our times and demands action at every level. It is great to see staff and students coming together to address questions about how the university can put climate justice at the heart of everything it does.’

Support the Green New Deal Claim: Sign the Petition

The Joint trades unions and Guild of Students look forward to negotiating the claim with the University, and the opportunity to work collaboratively with the university to implement a Green New Deal and create a better, fairer and more sustainable institution.

Demand a Green New Deal at the University of Liverpool

Demand a Green New Deal at the University of Liverpool

Campus unions and the students Guild are calling on the University of Liverpool to adopt a ‘Green New Deal Bargaining’ approach to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency and ensure a Just Transition to a sustainable future.
What does this mean?
Green New Deal bargaining is a grassroots approach to climate and environmental action. Governments, corporations, and civic organizations have failed to tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Promises have not been kept and the pace of change has been slow. Whilst the University of Liverpool has made some initial progress, the sustainability strategy lacks ambition, transparency, democratic accountability, and clear commitments on resourcing.
The university is signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals but is failing to implement them within its own institutional practices. To create institutional accountability, shift the pace of change, and combat greenwashing we need strong mechanisms for collective staff and student voice. We need a Green New Deal to drive democratic change across all areas of the University’s practices and environmental impacts.
As a matter of URGENCY we are calling on the university to:

  • Declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency. Expand the 2035 Net Zero commitment to all scope 3 emissions including outsourced emissions generated from home working.
  • Recognise that measures to mitigate climate and environmental impacts are matters for joint consultation and negotiation with the campus unions and the Guild of students. Establish a new standing committee on Net Zero and environmental impacts with student, union and Senior Leadership Team participation.
  • Decarbonise and Decolonise the curriculum to support climate justice. Develop negotiated policies to achieve this with the trades unions and the Guild, addressing workload, training, and resourcing issues
  • Commit to bringing its research agenda into line with principles of sustainable development. Support a worker led transition away from funding streams tied to environmentally harmful activities.
  • Bring the university’s employment practices in line with the Sustainable Development Goals: decasualise employment practices, end race and gender pay gaps, and reduce inequality through the adoption of pay ratios.
  • Reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of its investment portfolio to net zero. Review the exclusions in the Ethical Investment Policy in consultation with unions and students and develop stronger oversight mechanisms for governing investment decisions

What can I do?
Staff: Join a union! Get involved with the building support for the Green New Deal claim. For more information contact UCU Green rep Ben Crawford: b.crawford@liv.ac.uk
Students: Contact the Guild to say you support the Green New Deal: guildweb@liv.ac.uk