The annual UN Climate Conference, COP24 is taking place in Katowice, Poland. It started on the 2nd Dec and will finish on the 14th Dec. 190 countries are meeting at COP24 and must get results on action towards all countries’ Paris Agreement targets.
Teams of students from secondary schools across Reading, representing 15 countries from Fiji to USA, met in the Council Chambers on Wednesday 5th December to carry out their own talks on progress towards the Paris Agreement and try to negotiate raising ambition for more action.
Prof. Paul Williams from University of Reading addressed the children and emphasized the realities of global warming and human interference. Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, said: “Climate change is a subject which young people rightly feel passionate about. The mock conference was opened by the Mayor of Reading, councillor Debs Edwards and children were asked to exchange ideas to tackle this global problem.
What is happening on Climate Change around the world?
On 3rd Dec 2018, Sir David Attenborough said the below at the COP24
“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years, Climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
The clear messages the students gave for everyone in the Council Chambers were on similar lines too:
- the immediacy of the effects of climate change for every country in the world, the effects being especially hard-hitting for vulnerable countries
- the complexity of decision-making and contradictions of policy-making, particularly where economic interests based on fossil fuels, and political reticence are taking precedence
- the vital part that cooperation between countries can play in increasing momentum by helping to distribute finance, and to learn from great ideas that are already working elsewhere in the world.
What can we do locally about Climate Change?
The second part of the conference brought Local Action into sharp focus. The extent of the commitment to climate action by Local Government was strongly conveyed by Cllr Tony Page in his opening words and Chris Beales, Chair of the Reading Climate Change Partnership. He stressed the part that each individual has to play, and what students in particular can do to help galvanise others.
“…schools are really influential parts of our community, if you pass on what you know about climate change to your fellow students, and teachers…and you all pass on to your friends and families…we can reach a lot of people. And this is such an important issue…we need you to pester, and jump up and down about this until we get it sorted.” – Chris Beales
Sustainability experts from Reading Climate Change Partnership, Reading Council’s Sustainability Team and local organisations provided details of great local initiatives and ways for students to make a difference: from energy use in school, growing food, using green space differently through to signing up to a transport initiative or influencing recycling. Each school went away with at least one idea or ‘pledge’ for what they can do, and ICN will follow to make sure that the tools are in place for going about it.
Our huge thanks go to Reading Borough Council for hosting the event and Reading Climate Change Partnership for its support.
Participants and Contributors:
Schools: The Bulmershe School, Highdown School, Kendrick School, Prospect School, Waingels College.
Councillors: The Mayor of Reading Councillor Debs Edwards, Councillor Tony Page, Deputy Leader of the Council
Keynote: Professor Paul D Williams, Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, UK http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~williams/
Workshop contributors: Nature Nurture, Reading Borough Council Sustainability Team, Reading Climate Change Partnership, Reading International Solidarity Centre, Reading 2050, Stuart Singleton-White COnsultant, University of Reading Dept of Environmental Science.