Date: November 28, 2019 Location:Solihull Venue:Solihull City Suite

Students from across Solihull met in the Civic Suite on 28th November to debate climate change and to develop their ideas for local actions.

40 students from Solihull schools and colleges met in the Solihull Civic Suite on 28th November for a lively debate on international climate change, and to discuss what they themselves wanted to do locally.

Schools represented were:  Grace Academy; John Henry Newman College; Solihull Sixth Form College; Lode Heath School; Tudor Grange Academy Kingshurst.  Teams represented 11 very different countries, from China to Indonesia, from the UK to Chile.

The Model Climate Conference, mirroring the annual COP25 International Climate Conference to be held in Madrid the following week, was opened by the Mayor of Solihull, Stuart Davis, and the Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Borough Council, Nick Page.

Teams presented their country’s climate change targets, explained their progress and issues, and challenged others on their performance.  Poorer countries where impact of climate change is already hitting hard stressed the importance of funding from richer countries to help adapt.  Others drew attention to the need for education and importance of communities taking a lead.  Positives were highlighted, such as how businesses around the world are responding and how new jobs are being created in renewable energy and other green sectors.

The teams then put their differences aside and engaged with each other to find areas of common ground.  They developed bilateral deals on actions to make faster progress.  That’s exactly what the planet hopes will happen at COP 25 in Madrid.

Having learned more about the ‘wicked problem’ of international climate change, the focus switched to action locally.  Students discussed their ideas with local experts from the Solihull Council Sustainable Development Team, SWITCH (Travel & Transport) and Love Solihull (Recycling).

The teams then agreed one action for change that they would take back to their school.  They also considered who they should engage with to actually make things happen.

David Biss, Head of Sustainable Development Team Solihull MBC gave some closing words, looking forward to his team continuing to help the students deliver on their ideas.  Students added some final words:

‘Team-work and cooperation is important, not just for climate change.  It allows others in the younger generation to have an impact.’
‘People often think that only government can handle climate change.  But it’s not just them; it’s people working in local areas to make a difference.’

The Conference and follow-up activities are part of ICN’s Climate Voices Programme supported by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Garfield Weston Foundation.