Former Irish President hails GCU climate justice programme

15 February 2017

Former Irish President Dr Mary Robinson emphasised the critical role of education and political participation in tackling climate change during an inspirational lecture for Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) students.

The GCU honorary graduate established the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, which works closely with the GCU Centre for Climate Justice.

Dr Robinson described the current way of life as 'flawed and unsustainable' during the hour-long video-link discussion for PhD and MSc Climate Justice students.

"We can’t have peaceful and prosperous societies without taking urgent action on climate change," argued Dr Robinson. "We live in a deeply troubled world, anxious about human security, swayed by the shallow yearnings of populism and shifting towards increasingly insular and myopic national policy making.

"For every aggressive policy, for every small-minded tweet demonising the other, we are witnessing communities coming together to deliver a different message. There is a resurgence in political participation and it’s in this spirit I think lies the solution to the climate crisis.

"Students have a critical role to play. I know students at Glasgow Caledonian University benefit from great leadership and the excellent work of the Centre for Climate Justice, with a dedicated MSc Climate Justice degree programme.

"Education is a privilege afforded to the few. With this privilege comes a responsibility to find ways to apply learning for the betterment of humanity. When delivered in an effective, multidisciplinary way, education can increase consciousness of climate change and sustainable development, and produce new insights, not only scientific, but sociological and political."

Dr Robinson also considered the need for legal reform and addressed energy poverty during the lecture, hosted by Trinity College Dublin.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said: "We are developing and growing graduates who will champion climate justice in the future and we are always absolutely honoured to have the opportunity for our students to hear from Dr Mary Robinson. She has been an advocate of climate justice at Glasgow Caledonian University for many years now and we really appreciate the time and positive energy she gives to our students, inspiring them to keep working on this hugely critical global agenda for future generations."