A staff member’s concern about campus climate policy

What the Where We Are Today report reveals about U of M community priorities

I would like to comment on the recent report released by the U of M called Where We Are Today, which summarizes the key concerns of the U of M community as the institution prepares to create its new strategic plan.

Over 1,000 students, faculty and staff responded to surveys and participated in consultation sessions. Their five primary concerns are antiracism and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), reconciliation and decolonization, improving accessibility for Manitobans, better preparing students for the future and increasing relevant knowledge creation.

While all these areas are critical, I was shocked that climate action was not a primary concern for those community members who participated in the survey. This doesn’t accurately represent the feelings of more than 60 per cent of Canadians who are worried about climate change. Besides, whether you’re worried about it or not, extreme weather is already affecting us here in Canada.

Climate action could fall under two of the existing themes, specifically anti-racism and EDI and reconciliation and decolonization. Climate action is inherently anti-racist because Black, Indigenous and people of colour are disproportionately impacted by human-caused climate disruption, despite often having lower carbon footprints. Furthermore, meaningful stewardship of land is essential to preserving and repairing the traditional territories of Indigenous people.

As stated in the Paris Agreement — an international climate change treaty — CO2 emissions need to be cut 45 per cent by 2030, making the next seven years part of the most critical decade in human history. Now, more than ever, we must make our voices loud.

I strongly encourage those on campus who care about this issue to speak up. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable for our impact on Earth and create a beautiful future for all to share.