Hope in Nell

How many have you been told that the fate of the planet is in your hands? If you’re one of the 10 million estimated members of Generation Z in the UK, the chances are the answer is ‘a fair few’.

I recently turned 21, and have spent the last five-or-so years trying my utmost to do my part in mitigating the climate and biodiversity crises. From campaigning for recycling schemes in my sixth form, to becoming vegetarian, to writing to companies to criticise their environmental record, I’ve been doing as much as I could. But I couldn’t help but feel that whilst I frantically tried to spend my time taking small steps to reduce the impacts I could see around me, those in power were being reckless and endangering my future with their poor climate action and lack of care for nature.

Year after year I’d hear news of fossil fuel subsidies, increasing disregard for green spaces, failure to meet climate and nature targets set on the international stage. With the dire need to reduce emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to give even half a chance of staying within 1.5°C warming, I recognised that there wasn’t time for my generation to become the ones in power and make change:

We needed to turn the ship around now

And that’s where supporting the Climate and Nature Bill came in. A piece of legislation mandating a comprehensive, joined-up approach to the climate and biodiversity crises, placing them front and centre in national priorities. Finally, something those in power could enact to reach Net Zero and reverse biodiversity loss through adequate, science-based solutions backed by financial and public support – the transformative action we so desperately need. The CAN Bill is a Private Member’s Bill so will hopefully get through Parliament with demonstrated support from as many MPs, businesses, and other institutions as possible; currently over 150 MPs and Peers from all major political parties support it, as well as numerous organisations and individuals.

One important show of support for the CAN Bill is from educational institutions

The Bill is a cross-party piece of legislation and isn’t associated with a political party, so schools, colleges, and universities can all pledge their support to the Bill and show the Government how important it is that they adopt it. I’m a third year Biology undergraduate at the University of Oxford, and knowing how important it was to take action now rather than later, decided to pass a motion in my students’ union in support of the CAN Bill.

A student union is a student-run group dedicated to providing the community of a university with fairness, opportunities and a voice – the union is separate to the university itself, but has large influence and can make change in the university itself through campaigns and on various committees. Writing the motion was relatively easy – you can get support from your SU representatives on how to do this – and it didn’t take long to write a short piece on how important it was to show our collective student desire to support the Bill. It was very important to have clear aims in the motion: I decided on asking the SU to formally support the Climate and Nature Bill; to campaign that the University of Oxford itself also pledges support to the Bill; and to draft a joint press release with Zero Hour to document the passing of this motion and its implications. The last point was important to raise awareness of the campaign and encourage other organisations to follow our lead – the motion passed without any issues, and you can find Oxford SU’s statement here.

Passing the motion was a simple but vital act to push towards the Climate and Nature Bill being adopted as law. It’s so important for students to show their support for something like this, and backing from education institutions shows politicians how important it is for them to act now and safeguard our future. You can find a draft motion below – I ask everyone reading this from a school, college, or higher education institution to check it out and pass a motion in support of the CAN Bill. We don’t have time to wait until our generation are the ones steering, so supporting the CAN Bill is one way to start changing course towards a safe and equitable future for us all.

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