The 20thof September marked a day of global climate strikes, forming the biggest collective climate strike on record. In St Andrews, we too made history. A line in the sand was formed for climate change, made up of over 1200 people along West Sands, a symbolic action and silent strike to reflect on what climate change means for all of us.
What does it mean for us individually, collectively and as a society? Are we ready for the large- scale changes that have to come? What does climate change mean for us as a sea-side town? How can we all form part of the solution?
St Andrews is such a beautiful place to live in and such a special old town. But with sea-levels rising and the increase in extreme weather events, all that we know and love here is put at risk. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) we now only have 10 years left before we reach critical turning points that lead us to Climate Catastrophe. As a student in St Andrews I am here to study for a future, for a greener and cleaner world, but how can we ensure that such a world will exist? We like to pretend that we have a certain future and many people plan a substantial amount of their life around it but how can we demand and lead climate action in our day to day lives?
The St Andrews Climate Action Day started off with a strike and protest in St Salvator’s Quad and then led along the streets of St Andrews down to West Sands beach. The sheer volume of people who joined the strike was incredible, as well as the energy that we as a crowd carried. People from all ages participated: students, school children, nursery kids, toddlers, parents, adults and senior citizens, all part of this #allforclimate movement. At the beach we were then joined by even more people chanting for immediate climate action. Speeches by the Deputy Principal Professor Lorna Milner, MP Stephan Gethins and MSP Willie Rennie were given, showing their support of the movement and commitment to climate action. What followed next was a line in the sand that was longer than the eye could see and stretched along West Sands Beach. The 5- minute silence was marked with the start of the bagpipers playing and ended with a ripple of clapping down the line. During the five minutes the crowd stood looking out onto the ocean while birds flew over our heads and toddlers were playing in the water. “It is their future”, is all I could think, “all of our future”.
This world has to achieve the impossible if we want to stop the climate crisis. With everyone standing up for that future, the impossible can become possible.
1200people drew a line in the sand for climate change. This climate strike was the biggest strike St Andrews has ever seen. We made history in a 600-year-old university. If that is not a mandate for change then I don’t know what is.
The next goal of the Climate Action St Andrews group is to push the petition for the University of St Andrews to declare a Climate Emergency. We need a strong commitment from the university to set clear goals in order to become climate neutral and actively work towards the protection of our planet. Many other universities in the UK, such as the University of Bristol, have already made such statements. Furthermore, the Scottish government was the first to declare a Climate Emergency and we as the University should support their climate leadership. Our university motto says “ever to excel” but that is challenged with climate change threatening our existence on Earth. Climate Change is an unprecedented threat in history from which we will either fall or rise as leaders. Let us make sure that we can keep our motto “ever to excel” so that it may be carried proudly into the next centuries.
In the town of St Andrews there is also still a lot that needs to be done to ensure climate action and sustainability. This is an opportunity to become climate leaders and shine an example into the world. One of the most powerful chants that we proclaimed yesterday was “We are unstoppable, another world is possible”. Whatever happens we cannot and will not give up on our future. Let us never forget the power we have as a collective. To get involved please check out the “Climate Action St Andrews” Facebook page and also sign the petition for the University to declare a Climate Emergency: https://www.change.org/p/st-andrews-university-the-university-of-st-andrews-must-declare-a-climate-emergency