ICN was delighted to be asked to run an in-person climate conference again in Hounslow House on 11 December 2023. The conference is to be followed with work with schools’ eco-groups in 2024.  

This was the third conference for Hounslow’s secondary schools after an initial event in 2019 and a successful on-line conference held in 2021  Councillor Katherine Dunne, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport has joined all three events and we are grateful to her and for the support of the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) for this conference. She welcomed the students and highlighted the importance of decisions being made locally and globally in response to climate change. 

Video copyright of Hounslow Council.

COP28 high-octane debate 

Student teams’ own opening speeches kicked-off a high-octane debate. Country teams were pressed by others on their progress, for example questions were put to hosts UAE on their plans to shift away to oil and towards renewable energy. Developing nations such as Uganda were strong in their requests for compensation for damage from intense weather (floods) that they haven’t caused but are having to pay for. Bangladesh stressed the importance of restoring mangroves to protect their vulnerable coastlines. UK came under some pressure from the international community for pushing back its targets for example on diesel vehicles.   

The tone of the conference became more conciliatory as country teams focused on joint actions that can help to ramp up global ambition. The final ‘Hounslow Pact’ was wide ranging and included all important pledges for funding

  • Cities to receive $1 billion over 10 years in the move to electrification of transport and to stabilise water supplies 
  • Energy shift to renewables to include investment in wave technology and joint work on solar power being headed by UAE and Australia 
  • Forests and Food funding to focus on reforestation particularly in the Amazon, the increase of national resources and sustainable use of resources in manufacturing industries,  
  • Oceans were led by a UK 5-year plan and promise of $500m, increasing by 15% per annum towards the development of mangroves (20%), and restoring oceans (80%) including sustainable fishing.  

The headline of the students’ COP28 agreement was a commitment to the phasing out of fossil fuels, acknowledging that this is a very long process and will require significant work to decrease energy demand. 

Local action in Hounslow 

A great climate action marketplace lined up for students to discuss local initiatives and to inspire their own pledges for what more can be done in school. 

In opening this part of the conference, Steven Wilding, Head of Net Zero, Neighbourhood and the Green Economy (LBH) gave an overview of the different areas where schools can get involved, and introduced the teams in the marketplace: 

  • Eco Schools team, LBH – working on climate actions that can get everyone involved 
  • Groundwork West London – environmental volunteering in the borough working on tree planting and biodiversity 
  • Parks and Green Spaces, LBH – sharing the Nature Recovery Action Plan including use of recreational space, and particularly women’s safety. 
  • Transport team, LBH – thinking about schemes such as school super zones and school streets, plus cycling training. 
  • University of West London – working with teachers and students on sustainability issues 
  • Waste team, LBH – talking about stepping up our recycling and reducing our food waste. 

Photos of stall holders from local action marketplace: Parks and Green Spaces, Waste team and Steven Wilding, Head of Net Zero, Neighbourhood and the Green Economy.

After visiting each stall, students made their own pledges and fed back to plenary the actions they want to happen in their schools: 

Hounslow Schools 2023 Pledge at the conference 
Bolder Academy  Introducing more recycling of paper; getting parents and whole school involved 
Chiswick School  Setting up eco-committee with initiatives like No Mow May and others for biodiversity 
Kingsley Academy Plants in school; Recycling bins; Transport for schools 
Springwest Academy Green flag award; Litter-picking; Concern is rebuilding green space 
The Green School for Girls Food waste bins; planting trees & implementing green spaces 
The Green School for Boys  Recycling bins; waste management. 

ICN finished by inviting all Hounslow Schools to register their interest to join on-line and in person skills workshops in 2024. These will help eco-groups to create targeted climate action in school: 

  •   Empowering lead groups of students  
  •   Applying behaviour change thinking 
  •   Offering practical activities and guidance 

Students will have the chance to come back together in the summer term to share achievements and build on your skills. 

Register your interest with Rachel Shepherd by emailing schools@interclimate.org