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Law students Kefa Nsubuga and Sumirat Saini were part of our recent 'Environmental Activism and Climate Change' event. Students from the arts, humanities, law, environmental sciences and engineering discussed issues relating to COP26.

Kefa and Sumirat talk about their own motivations and contributions below.

You can view the full 'Environmental activism and climate change' roundtable event.

Sumirat Saini, Birmingham Law School

It was astonishing to witness COVID-19's unbelievable impact as we observed pollution levels dropping and skies becoming bluer. Our mind-sets appear to have shifted in a positive and hopeful change with the change in the lifestyle and shift in the approach towards the nature.

Greetings, Friends of the Earth! My name is Sumirat. I'm a final-year law student at this prominent university. As you may be aware, climate change is one of the most critical and urgent environmental challenges, and young people, particularly students like us, are conscious of the need to address climate change because youth voices are becoming more essential than ever in driving the climate change discourse. Personally, I don't want my future years to be a reminder of what it's like to live in an uncontrollable environment, so when I read that CAL was committed to making their own contribution to climate change efforts by promoting sustainability on campus, I was inspired to step outside of my comfort zone, use my imaginations, and plan an event ahead of COP26 in collaboration with Professor Aleksandra Cavoski.

Without a doubt, the global response to climate change has been unsatisfactory, but it has been better than nothing. Hundreds of climate change regulations exist in countries all over the world, but how effective are they at addressing the issues? I was curious to learn how well these laws were working. I was curious to know if the current effort to connect legal rights with the dangers posed by climate change might be viewed as one of the most crucial legal issues for all of us, as citizens or lawyers. I count myself lucky to have played a role in such a wonderful opportunity because I not only learned that environmental activism is a broad term that can encompass various forms of activism, but I also discovered about the various student roles in the environmental movement, such as launching creative initiatives that provide a glimpse of a better future, campaigning on the frontlines with environmental organisations, and advocating the importance of student activism at university.

Furthermore, I'd want to bring out that I always make time for the things that make me grateful to be alive. As a student ambassador, I have advocated for minority communities. I've written blogs, made videos to keep students happy during lockdowns, organised welcome + experience sharing events, mentored first-year students, and so on. I recently started working as a lecture assistant. Aside from that, I am a member of the Selection Volunteer Committee, which is responsible for conducting interviews for Commonwealth Games 2022 Volunteering.

Finally, I wish I could say it myself, but Austin Perlmutter said it best: “If you want evidence that the world is a terrible place, watch the news and surf the web. But if you want to remember how incredible this planet is, go out into nature. Unlike social media and the news, nature has no incentive to keep us agitated, angry and anxious”.

Love your ENVIRONMENT, Be PROUD of it!

A photo of Kefa Nsubuga wearing a suit and looking into camera

I decided to do a Master of Law degree at the University of Birmingham because I had a strong desire to embark on my postgraduate studies in the areas of energy and environmental law. The motivation was inspired by the fact that less attention was being given to the environment and more needed to be done. Participating in the recent COP26 student roundtable event augmented my motivation. It was an opportunity for me to live out my desires, going beyond the lectures and reading materials and learn from others with a similar passion about the environment.

One of the modules I have studied under the course relates to Renewable Energy and Climate Change Law. Whereas use of renewable energy has increased mainly due to climate change, many governments have been pushed to implement climate change adaptations and mitigations through environmental activism. I have been learning the role of environmental activism in shaping the landscape of environmental justice. The purpose of the roundtable was to arouse this activism within the university community to demand and promote responsible environmental conduct.

Participating in this event helped me appreciate that environmental activism goes beyond the legal discipline. In understanding this, I am motivated to work with other disciplines to enrich my research but also have a wider understanding of issues. Environmental matters are embedded in science and if not well cared for may lead to massive social and economic consequences.

The event attracted students and others from different disciplines at the university who shared their experiences and contribution towards environmental activism. It is not so often that people of different backgrounds come together. I learned a lot from my participation that will enrich my studies and my perspective on environmental matters.  The discussions gave a platform for the university community to arise and take matters of environment and climate change seriously, and act responsibly. By taking part in this event, I believe I contributed to shaping the future of environmental activism in the eyes of the students and their role in participating in issues of the environment and climate change.

Being a long distance student, my involvement in extra-curricular activities/ opportunities has been limited. As such, I have endeavoured to take part in some activities. Recently, I worked on an assignment with two of my lecturers under Birmingham Law School CEPLER Re-skill scheme. I look forward to engaging in other extra-curricular activities as I continue with my studies at the university.