GCU students set challenge by leading climate justice campaigner

04 April 2016

Dr Mary Robinson

Dr Mary Robinson

Students at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) were today (April 4) set a climate challenge by former Irish president and GCU honorary graduate Dr Mary Robinson.

The leading climate justice campaigner tasked GCU’s MSc Climate Justice students with “getting into the 1.5°C frame of mind” during an innovative skype session.

Climate justice focuses on the responsibility of developed nations to support less developed countries experiencing the worst effects of climate change, such as famines and floods.

At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal to keep the global temperature rise well below 2°C and push towards the safer 1.5°C limit.

Dr Robinson, who established the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, told students: "I always enjoy engaging with Glasgow Caledonian University which has a proud tradition in taking the lead on climate justice and I salute the students and staff for expanding the evidence base.

"Climate justice is about helping millions of people who stand to lose everything they have. I have a challenge for you, as researchers, to help make sure the Paris Agreement is a success. Firstly walk the talk. Secondly, consider how the agreement impacts upon your area of interest, be it education, the environment, law, health. What are the implications and pathway to achieving 1.5°C? There’s no time to waste; the clock is ticking.

"Paris was a significant moment for climate justice and it is now part of the lexicon rather than the taboo subject. It’s now a case of what governments must do and what I, the individual can do."

The Centre for Climate Justice at GCU was established in 2013 and is home to a rich research resource repository developed with the Mary Robinson Foundation, whilst also leading on projects to deliver clean water in Malawi and Zambia.

The MSc Climate Justice at GCU is the only degree of its kind in the world, focusing on human rights, development and climate change.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said: “Dr Mary Robinson is a world leader in the field of climate justice and it was an honour and a privilege for her to speak to our students. Dr Robinson provided fantastic insight which will get our students thinking as they progress through their studies. They have also been set a challenge which, as the future champions of climate justice, I am sure they will all rise to.”

Students were joined at the event by invited guests including representatives from the Scottish Government, Oxfam and Tearfund, who considered how to deliver climate justice in Scotland.

The film of Dr Robinson’s talk will be available to view on the Centre for Climate Justice website.