Date: November 2016 Location:Cheltenham, Reading, South Gloucestershire

Running at the same time as the crucial COP22 climate talks taking place in Marakkesh, 175 young people from 14 secondary schools in Cheltenham, Reading and South Gloucestershire showed the world and their local politicians the way forward.

Students Lead in Climate Change

Conferences were held at:

  • Cheltenham (Cheltenham Council Chambers) 10 November
  • Reading (Reading Town Hall) 15 November
  • South Gloucestershire (Kingswood Civic Centre) 18 November

We were delighted that so many young people took part in a dynamic and challenging afternoon.  The young participants surprised themselves and the experienced guests with the strength and thoughtfulness of their arguments about pressing global climate change issues.

The formal negotiations focused on how countries can implement and improve on the actual commitments made at the United Nations (UN) Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December 2015.  Teams of students each represented countries such as China, the UK, and the Maldives, and considered the same issues that were debated in the UN Marrakesh Climate Conference (COP 22, 7th – 18th November 2016). You can read our briefing about COP22 here.

Students challenged each other about what their countries are doing to put their carbon reduction pledges into practice, they shared their best ideas, and considered what more can be done to ‘ratchet up’ ambitions to help meet the agreed target of 1.5 – 2.0 degree Celsius increase in global temperature.

The students didn’t just discuss what is happening at a country and international level. They were also able to send powerful messages and pose important questions to their own politicians and local leaders about what more can be done in each area to reduce carbon emissions.

After the formal debate, students heard presentations from MPs, local council leaders, active schools, business, and charity leaders on what is being done in their areas to reduce damaging carbon emissions.  In an ‘Ideas Zone’ and an ‘Action Zone’ they made their own suggestions about what more could be done in their schools and communities.

Get inspiration from the Reading MCC Ideas Zone!

Get inspiration from the South Gloucestershire MCC Ideas Zone!

One message I would like to send to actual UN decision-makers is that young people are an important part in our communities and have a lot to contribute.
– Student, King’s Oak Academy

I have really enjoyed the day and it has improved my knowledge of Geography and climate change.
– Student, King’s Oak Academy

Thank you again for another fantastic and engaging model climate conference. Our Highdown students thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I agree, rose to the occasion! Many of them told me that they gained so much from the afternoon.
– Teacher, Highdown School

School kids showing their elders compromise and collaboration is possible, very inspiring!
– Mark Kenber, Mongoose Energy

Our thanks go to all the Council teams, guests, and presenters who provided both financial support and valuable expertise at each event.
Thanks goes especially to the schools who took part, their young people and teachers for their preparation, and for the teams’ total involvement at each event.

Cheltenham MCC, 10th November:

Balcarras School
Chosen Hill School *
The Cotswold School
Pate’s Grammar School
Pittville School
St Peter’s RC High School *

Politicians, local organisations and other guests:

Lord Tyler, ICN Honorary President
Councillor Chris Ryder, Mayor of Cheltenham Council
Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham
Cllr Steve Jordan, Council Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council
Peter Clegg, Cheltenham Green Doors
Mark Stead, Severn Wye Energy Agency and Sustainable Energy Management Schools *
James Millar, Trustee of The Summerfield Trust

Schools taking part in Reading MCC, 15th November:

Highdown School
Reading School
Kendrick School
Little Heath School
Maiden Erlegh School in Reading

Politicians, local organisations and other guests:

The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading Councillor Mohammed Ayub
Tracey Rawling Church, KYOCERA Document Solutions (UK)
Mark Kember, Mongoose Energy
Ben Burfoot, Reading Borough Council
Anna Fowler, re3 recycling
Dave Richards, Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC)
Dr Sylvia Knight, Royal Meteorological Society

Schools taking part in South Gloucestershire MCC, 18th November:

King’s Oak Academy
The Castle School
The Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy

Politicians, local organisations and other guests:

Councillor Erica Williams, Chair of South Gloucestershire Council
George Kousouros and Eric Sanders, South Gloucestershire Council
Charlie Rankin and James Ryle, Good Energy
Ian Roderick, Schumacher Institute
Severn Wye Energy Agency and its Sustainable Energy Management project representation.

Point of contact: Michila Critchley