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RMIT yet to endorse climate strike, three weeks after partnering with Vietnam Grand Prix

Cai Holroyd and Heather Broadbent

RMIT is yet to endorse the climate strike being held on Friday, unlike other major Victorian universities such as the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and Swinburne University. This comes three weeks after Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean partnered with the Vietnam Grand Prix and reaffirmed his ties to Scott Morrison.

RMIT’s Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean spent the last week of August in Vietnam with Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Nguyen Xuan Phuc, alongside the Deputy CEO of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation Ashley Davies.

Martin Bean “met with key people from industry and government as part of a program to share our plans for RMIT’s ongoing future in Vietnam”, according to a newsletter distributed by RMIT to staff.

Over the week, an upcoming partnership with the Vietnam Grand Prix was announced, as well as a partnership with VietJet Air. RMIT has been partnered with the Australian Grand Prix since 2015.

Motorsports have been criticised heavily for their environmental impact. While the sport itself is reliant on fuel, a Formula One Teams Association report from 2010 found that only 0.3% of emissions result from racing and testing.

Instead, emissions resulting from wind tunnel testing, computing, travel, manufacturing, and other factors make up the other 99.7%.

According to the report, these factors combined were responsible for about 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, though this number was forecasted to fall.

But an article by Jonathan Noble for Autosport said “Grand Prix racing has been carbon neutral since 1997” as a result of carbon credits.

Scott Morrison was also present for the trip to Vietnam. The Vice-Chancellor said RMIT looked forward to continuing its work with the Vietnamese Government and in collaboration with the Australian Government.

The Prime Minister was heavily criticised earlier this year for his comments on the School Strike for Climate. 

“We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments,” he said. “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”

A concerned staff member said “It is rather ironic and concerning that a university with a science background such as RMIT, can be proud of a relationship with a Prime Minister whose government seems determined to deny the scientific facts about climate change and continue to risk the futures of our young people through their failure to act on climate change.”

A petition calling on Martin Bean to endorse the climate strike currently has almost 300 signatures, but has yet to receive any response. RMIT have not yet responded to a request for comment.

The Melbourne strike will begin at the Treasury Gardens at 2:00pm.

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