Student petition brought to meeting

Students, faculty call for ambitious goal for carbon-neutrality by 2050

Cassandra Cummings, MSc ’13, says QBAAC put up awareness posters to remind the administration of their committments.
Cassandra Cummings, MSc ’13, says QBAAC put up awareness posters to remind the administration of their committments.

Queen’s held the first open-community forum to discuss the University’s Climate Action Plan on Monday.

Student-run group Queen’s Backing Action Against Climate Change (QBACC) presented the administration with over 800 student signatures in support of the plan.

“This petition shows student support for carbon neutrality by 2050 as part of our overarching plan,” Eric Shoesmith, ArtSci ’13 and co-chair of QBACC, said. “What the students really want is an ambitious goal to be set.”

There were over 60 students, faculty and staff in attendance at the event that was organized by the plan’s advisory committee.

Shoesmith said poor scheduling was to blame for a lower-than-expected turnout.

“The committee and administration said that the major purpose was to get students’ opinions. But this scheduling at [noon] to 1 [p.m.] on a Monday, is not conducive to most students’ schedules,” he said.

In February 2010, Principal Daniel Woolf signed the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada. Through this document Woolf pledged to make tangible changes to increase campus sustainability.

“The committee provides the recommendations but ultimately the administration has the final say,” Cassandra Cummings, a student representative of QBACC, said.

This year, Queen’s missed the two-year deadline set by the Presidents’ Climate Change Statement — the University had planned to have a set list of goals and targets for sustainability initiatives.

“Just the fact that they’ve missed this deadline shows that the administration isn’t taking this seriously,” Cummings, MSc ’13, said. QBACC responded to the missed deadline by putting up posters on campus. The posters, showing a wolf with the phrase “What time is it Mr. Woolf?” were displayed in all major buildings.

Cummings said the posters raised awareness about the issue and reminded the administration of their commitments to sustainability.

“We’re at the position now where Queen’s can stand up and be a leader and actually create a climate action plan,” Cummings said. “Or we could just make it about image.”

As part of the Presidents’ Climate Change Statement, Queen’s Climate Action Plan was launched in February. Consulting firm Delphi Group assisted Queen’s in developing the plan. It details strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable practices in the University.

The plan’s advisory committee was formed in January 2012 and is comprised of 22 Queen’s faculty members, students and staff. Queen’s Sustainability Manager Aaron Ball is a member of the committee.

He said that while they still need to work on the plan’s final logistics, committee members want to solicit feedback.

“The plan is really for Queen’s by Queen’s,” Ball said. “We don’t want this to be done in isolation, we recognize climate change is important to a lot of students and we want their input.” The committee has been reaching out to the community through a number of mediums.

“We’re involving students through forums but also through social media,” Ball said. “[The Sustainability Office has] a Facebook page and a Twitter page, which we use as tools to present our ideas and get feedback.”

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