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Staff and students unite to tackle climate change

Young people across the south Wales valleys have joined thousands across the country in showing their commitment to combating climate change.

Hundreds of learners, education workers and union members at Coleg y Cymoedd congregated at the college’s four campuses to demonstrate their support for the global effort to cut carbon emissions by 45% over the next decade.

The college-wide stand, which took place in conjunction with the University and College Union (UCU) across its Ystrad Mynach, Aberdare, Rhondda and Nantgarw campuses, saw staff, students and union members all come together to acknowledge their concern about the climate crisis and their commitment to taking action.

The move comes after Welsh Government declared a climate emergency back in April, outlining fears that climate change threatens Wales’ health, economy, infrastructure and natural environment.

Lynsey Jenkins, UCU Coleg y Cymoedd Environmental Representative said: “The impact of climate change is far-reaching, and everyone has their role to play to help avoid the damaging effects of global warming. Education providers and trade unionists in particular have a responsibility to lead the way in environmental best practice to help shape society and meet the needs of future generations and the planet.

“Important links need to be built between young people, the trade union movement and education workers in the struggle protecting our communities against climate chaos. The UK’s trade unionists, alongside the enthusiasm of young activists, are vital to save the planet.”

In line with its commitment to reducing carbon emissions, Coleg y Cymoedd has this week unveiled a pledge that as a community it will support efforts to tackle climate change.

The college has announced plans to implement a range of measures across its campuses including: installing electric charge points, replacing college vehicles with electric/hybrid alternatives and setting up a car share register.

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It has also pledged to take into account environmental consequences when considering future energy and waste management contracts, as well as building maintenance and new technologies.

Karen Phillips, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “As a key provider of education, it is important for us to both support our learners as well as make a commitment to addressing the challenges of global warming as an organisation.

“We actively encourage staff and learners to express their concern about the global climate challenge and to show their support for change. We want them to be more aware of the impact of climate change and to make a personal commitment to making a difference themselves. At the same time, as a college we are ensuring best practice in terms of the management of our estates and in all future building projects.”

Following this announcement, the college is challenging learners and staff to adopt greener practices and has worked in collaboration with UCU to develop a list of environmental best practice recommendations to share with its community, including not using single-use plastics, conserving energy and water at every opportunity, walking and cycling, car sharing and adopting an approach of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.

This follows a host of environmentally friendly building projects implemented at the college over the last ten years including: rainwater harvesting, photovoltaic cells, smart metering, green roofs, beehives and the development of green spaces for teaching.

Karen added: “We are very proud of the work we have done to date at Coleg y Cymoedd and are committed to continuing these efforts and working with trade unions, learners and organisations to make a difference.”

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