Klimatstudenterna is a national non-profit association that was started in 2018 by students at SLU in Uppsala. Today, the association is present in 9 countries, Kenya, Great Britain, Singapore, Brazil, Nigeria, Colombia, Malta, Sweden and Finland. In Sweden, the association consists of a national board and local groups at 18 different universities. They are working to push Swedish universities in various ways to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target. The goal is to reduce their emissions by half in 2022 and reach zero emissions in 2030. As an organization, they strive to be at every university and that all higher education institutions should “live as they teach”. One of their latest projects is a petition produced by Mathilda Jilg, Johanna Andersson, Daniel Vamos, Lovisa Magnusson, Ra’eesah Hendricks, Erica Aronsson. Their list of signatures is named “Stop unnecessary flying! Swedish universities need to practice what they teach”.
Based on their survey that is sent out to universities in Sweden, an overview of “Climate Action Ranking” has been made on the universities’ impact on the environment and the emissions they contribute. This is a recurring survey that Klimatstudenterna annually publishes and works with. It has been seen that between 2019 and 2020, Sweden’s universities’ aviation-related emissions per annual workforce decreased by an incredible 87 percent. Which has led to a positive reduction in emissions for the environment. Klimatstudenterna want to emphasize the importance of the Universities doing their best to try to maintain this positive development and maintain their low emission levels from the pandemic, by flying less and not going back to how it was before the pandemic. Their solution is for the universities to have digital meetings or travel for example by train to the meetings that must be held on site.
Through their petition “Stop unnecessary flying! Swedish universities need to practice what they teach” they want to make the universities to understand the importance of this measure. That this is an existing problem that they must be involved in to solve together with the rest of the world. They need to face the fact that their flying is a contributing factor that works against reaching the 1.5 degree goal in the Paris Agreement. Students, professors, and other private individuals are encouraged to sign the petition both with their names and their title in order for it to have as effective an impact as possible. The goal is to, with the help of it, put pressure on the higher education institutions to keep an emission reduction of 16 percent per year and thus be in line with the latest research in carbon dioxide budgeting.
The climate students have highlighted that the environmental coordinators at each university need more legal support to be able to do what is required to achieve the goal. The association has been in contact with Matilda Ernkrans within the Ministry of Education and Research, who is the Minister of Higher Education and Research as they have submitted a proposal for additions to the Ministry of Education’s regulatory letter for 2022 under “1. Objectives and feedback requirements”. The supplement means that the environment and climate must be considered in all decisions concerning the business. The proposal means the following:
“Each university and college must develop a plan for how the university intends to work to reduce its total emissions so that they are in line with the 1.5-degree target by 2030, considering the justice aspect. According to the assignment, the plan must contain goals and measures that the university intends to take to achieve the set goals and a follow-up plan. Each individual higher education institution has the task of allocating the necessary resources for the work of designing and implementing the plan. Universities and colleges shall, by [appropriate reporting date], report the total emissions and environmental work of 2021 to [appropriate recipient for reporting].”
If you are interested in getting involved in the fight against climate changes, you can register your interest through their website klimatstudenterna.se and join a local group at your university or alternatively start a new group if there is not one already.