This year I was proud to support two local School Climate Change Conferences, organised by the Interclimate Network and supported by Just Ideas. The conferences bring a number of local schools together and in groups of four, the students recreate the annual COP conference and debate the issues surrounding Climate Change.

Lively and Passionate Debate about Climate Change

I began supporting the conferences last year in Solihull and I remember being blown away by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the students. They were just as impressive this year, engaging in lively and passionate debates about the impact of Climate Change. It was said more than once that the students demonstrated much more competence than the actual delegates themselves. If only they were in charge!

Each team represented one of the countries who were attending the COP28 conference and as they presented their opening statements, it was clear that they understood the magnitude of the climate crisis. Many spoke about the threat of rising sea levels and the increasing impact of severe weather upon their country. The smaller countries, most affected by Climate Change, were rightly calling upon the wealthier nations to do more to support them.

The teams were asked to enter into negotiations and make deals that would help tackle the Climate Emergency. The conference in Birmingham passed a majority vote to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2070 – world leaders should be taking note! In Solihull, the students their aim was even more ambitious – to phase out their use by 2025. Sadly, the real conference weren’t as successful as our students!

Demanding Real Action

At the end of the conference, the students were given the chance to question local councillors on what is being done locally to tackle the issues. The students in Solihull were so concerned about litter in their area that local Councillor Courts, agreed to push out a press release on the issue. That’s demanding real action! As a team, we were so proud of all the students and I congratulate them all on their brilliant contributions.

I’m thrilled to part of a team delivering these conferences. I really think they should be compulsory for all secondary pupils. After all, climate change is the most critical issue of our time. As the Mayor of Solihull, Mrs Diane Holl-Allen MBE, told the students, “You need to keep telling us oldies what we should be doing!”