The "Big Conversation" on decarbonising Lancaster University, originally meant to take place in 'early February', will now take place on 24th February. But don't worry about the delay – as the vice-chancellor has assured us, despite what the climate scientists may say, there is no emergency!

The University has confirmed to Spineless that the event is only open to staff, despite being a central part of management's plan to 'engage with staff and students' in response to repeated demands for the University to declare, and respond to, a Climate Emergency. The aim of the 90-minute "Big Conversation" is 'to generate ideas and discussions which will inform our environmental strategy plans and targets.'

This comes after students overwhelmingly backed a Climate Emergency motion at October's students' union AGM. The motion called for the University to commit to decarbonising by 2030, divesting from fossil fuels, and refuse all research funding from fossil fuel companies. The University has still not made a formal response to these demands, and their exclusion of students from the process is a clear indication that management has no intention of taking any student input on board.

Management's refusal to declare a Climate Emergency comes at a time when thousands of educational institutions globally have done so, including a growing number of major UK universities. And with the majority of UK universities having now committed to divesting from fossil fuels, Lancaster is rapidly developing a national reputation for climate inaction.

As well as ignoring the pleas of its students, the University is ignoring its own academics, thirteen of whom were among the over 11,000 signatories of a 'Warning of a Climate Emergency' recently published in BioScience, where they declared that they 'stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future.'

Hopefully University management will begin to listen to (and act upon) what staff and students have been demanding. But we won't hold our breath...

Staff can get tickets to February's "Big Conversation" here.