Friday 01 December 2023

More than 150 pupils aged between 16-18 from schools across England debated the climate crisis, during COP 28 in the UAE.

They were taking part in the British Council’s Schools Connect COP28 Climate Simulation Negotiations in Manchester and London to find out what it’s really like to negotiate a global climate deal.

The events, which used computer software developed by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate simulation, coincided with the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, which runs until 12 December 2023.

Delivered in partnership with United Learning, it was the first time the debate came to Manchester, hosted at William Hulme’s Grammar School, and the second time the simulation took place at the British Council’s office in Stratford. This year the simulations also piloted in Edinburgh and Cardiff, and took place in Belfast for the third consecutive year.

During negotiations, the pupils had to collectively agree on how much they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how they would help struggling nations, and agree on ways to adapt to climate change to protect their cities and people. 

The event in London was facilitated by Dr Peter Doran, Senior Lecturer in Law, from Queen’s University Belfast, who has over 25 years of experience in UN negotiations on sustainable development, and Samuel Bancroft from Leeds University’s Climate Impacts Group ran the discussions in Manchester.

Leading the negotiations were students Zaina Tahir from Accrington Academy in Lancashire, and Emily Hook from, Guildford High School in Surrey, who both played the role the role of the United Nations Secretariat General.

Zaina said: “I really enjoyed today and found it useful because young people from different schools have come together to combine their ideas. We have learnt new ways to showcase our thoughts about how to help the earth and get more people involved in the discussion.” 

Emily said: “Through negotiation and collaboration, we were able to reach our goal of reducing warming by 1.9%, which was a big achievement.  Today gave us a sense of what’s possible and it’s encouraging progress, however, this isn’t an effort that ends now.  This is such an urgent issue and it’s important for young people to feel empowered and like they can actually make a difference.”

Speaking after the event in London, Dr Peter Doran said: "Today's COP simulation showcased a truly impressive level of engagement from young leaders in grappling with global climate challenges. These emerging voices are already demonstrating a profound understanding of climate issues and I'm optimistic that today's experience will fuel their commitment to drive actionable change. Now we need to see more of these types of events taking place to equip future generations with essential skills in negotiation and international understanding, which are needed to tackle the most existential threat facing our planet."

Anna Bush, Deputy Director of Strategy and Performance at United Learning also commented: “Following on from the success of last year's event, we were thrilled to once again partner with the British Council to deliver a fantastic COP simulation experience to our students. We are particularly pleased to have expanded the initiative this year, with events hosted for our students in the North and in the South, enabling even more of our young people to get involved in and benefit from the opportunity.

“It was great to see students engage so enthusiastically in the activities, both in London and Manchester, and work together to produce an agreement on reducing carbon emissions. Events like these are a crucial part of how we deliver an Education with Character to our students and, in support of our Group sustainability ambitions, encourage our young people to engage in important conversations around the impact of climate change.”

Maddalaine Ansell, Director of Education at the British Council added: "I am delighted that young people across the whole of the UK can take part in our climate negotiation simulation and work together to create solutions for the global climate crisis. These events will help them understand the perspectives of different countries and develop sophisticated negotiation skills. We are very proud of every pupil who has taken part. Their passion and determination give us hope for the future.” 

The initiative is part of the British Council’s Schools Connect programme for schools in the UK and around the world. The British Council works with education policymakers to explore effective practices from other countries and help teachers to bring an international perspective to the curriculum. This supports all young people to build the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to respond to global challenges and develop international understanding. 

Through the Climate Connection programme, the British Council is also supporting people globally to find creative solutions to climate change in support of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in UAE this month. The British Council is supporting the summit by engaging with networks of education professionals, students, academics, researchers, artists, civil society leaders and policymakers to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.

This event continues the British Council’s work, building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work, visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Notes to Editor

To access event pictures, follow this link:

For further information, please contact:

Richard Evans, Media Manager, British Council


About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language.  We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022-23 we reached 600 million people.