Seventy pupils aged between 16-18 from across England played the part of politicians, journalists, and lobbyists today (Wednesday, 16 November) to debate the climate crisis.
They were taking part in a COP27 climate simulation negotiation at the British Council’s UK headquarters in Stratford. Young people from across United Learning’s schools had the opportunity to find out what it’s really like to negotiate a climate deal.
The event, which used computer software developed by Climate Interactive and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to create a real-life climate simulation, was taking place to coincide with the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
During the negotiations, pupils had to agree on a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature from rising above two degrees.
They were led by Yuhong Wang from University College London’s Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, with pupils joining remotely from schools across Northern Ireland and Egypt to take part in the negotiation, compare notes and understand different perspectives on the climate crisis.
Ahead of the event, Dr Lizzie Rushton, Research Lead at University College London’s Centre of Climate Change and Sustainability Education, said:
“Events like this are hugely important because they provide young people from different schools and communities opportunities to come together. They don’t just engage with the science of climate change, but they also develop skills and capabilities around climate negotiation that they can take forward in their lives. The British Council is doing vital work connecting these young people who can learn with and from each other, building tolerance and respect.”
Anna Bush, Deputy Director of Strategy and Performance at United Learning said:
“We are so pleased to have partnered with the British Council to deliver this unique event for our young people. It was fantastic to see so many students from across the group join and discuss their thoughts on how we can mitigate climate change so eloquently and confidently. It is through initiatives and experiences like this that we strive to develop our young people into kind, respectful and considerate members of society - what we call delivering an education with character.”
Attending the event was student Melike Kaya who represented part of the Chinese delegation:
“We were able to reach an agreement to keep global warming to two degrees Celsius. It was challenging negotiating with representatives from other countries as most people were trying to get our financial support, while we argued they should put more pressure on developed nations. But I found the event really enjoyable talking with people with different beliefs and trying to prove my point. I feel like I’ve learnt something today.”
Also commenting on the event was Neil Williams, Senior Schools Consultant at the British Council:
“It’s really important to bring young people together to create shared solutions for climate change and the global climate crisis. Climate change is a global problem, and it needs global solutions so we need to bring young people together to discuss the issues and come up with shared interests and common ground.”