Reading schools take over climate negotiations in mock COP27 conference
Schoolchildren from six local schools take on the role of negotiating teams during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) at a unique youth summit.
The event on Friday 11th November 2022 saw pupils from six local secondary schools seek to generate what has so far eluded world leaders: international scale-up of global ambition to limit dangerous global warming. The backdrop was hosted in the Council Chamber in the Reading Borough Council Civic offices.
Organised to emulate the real-life COP27 – running from 6th to 18th November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – the Reading Schools’ Model Climate Conference was organised by charity InterClimate Network. Reading Borough Council is a founding partner in Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP) who are sponsoring the event.
The students formed teams representing a diverse mix of fifteen developed and developing countries attending COP27 – including Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Kenya, the Marshall Islands, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, UK, and USA.
Putting forward policy positions using carefully chosen arguments in a conference debate model that mirrors the UN negotiations, the students agreed on a set of resolutions on key themes.
The second part of the conference brought the issues close to home so that the young people joining the event could have a say about climate action in their area. In a ‘Climate Question Time’, questions were put to a panel made up of local decision makers, a local business and an environmental organisation. The session ended with pledges for actions, including ways to make the most difference in school.
The schools participating in the 2022 Reading schools’ Climate Conference were:
Highdown School; Kendrick School; Bulmershe School; Reading Girls’ School; Denefield School and Ranelagh School.
The Mayor of Reading – Councillor Rachel Eden – opened the Conference, welcoming the students to the centre of local decision making. Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport and Reading Borough Council’s Head of Climate Peter Moore joined the Climate Question Time panel along with speakers from the Youth Parliament and Thames Water.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Climate Strategy and Transport who joined the Climate Question Time panel at the Schools’ Climate Conference said:
“This annual event is always truly inspiring where young people from across Reading show their passion for the environment and tackling climate change. Climate change is a subject which young people rightly feel passionate about and it will be good to see so many debating in the Council Chamber.”
“I’m very much looking forward to joining the Climate Question Time panel on the day, along with the council’s Head of Climate Strategy, and hearing from our local young people.”
“Young people are pressing for change to every aspect of our lives in response to the climate crisis. The Schools’ Climate Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to listen to them and help them develop plans to make change happen.”
“Climate change is of course one of the most significant challenges we face and the Schools’ Climate Conference will help to inform, inspire, and empower young people to make a positive difference for their futures – act locally but think globally – and importantly influence and inspire their networks. Remember, the Climate Emergency is everybody’s responsibility.”
“Like many other places, Reading experienced its hottest day on record this summer on 19 July 2022 when temperatures hit 37.6oC. This will not be a one-off. Despite real progress locally, there remains a huge amount to be done to achieve net zero for the Borough. As we have said on countless occasions, this is something the Council cannot achieve on its own. We need residents, communities, businesses and organisations across Reading to get involved and play their part.”
Brian Grady, Interim Director of Children’s Services and Director of Education at Brighter Futures for Children, said:
“Climate change and the environment are subjects that many children feel passionate about and I am delighted Reading’s young people are being given the opportunity to take part in the Schools’ Climate Conference.
“It is vital the voices of young people are heard and this conference gives them an excellent platform to debate and express their ideas for tackling this critical global concern.”
Michila Critchley, Programme Manager at InterClimate Network, said:
“We know that all high-level decisions – from leadership at school, to national policies, to climate action pledges at the UN – have an impact right now on the urgency of our response to the climate crisis.”
“This conference allows secondary school students from across Reading to be immersed in critical global negotiations as at the UN and importantly, means they can put our own local decision-makers on the spot.
“Our aim is for everyone to leave inspired and ready for more climate action, whether their influence lies in school, amongst family and friends, or in the wider community.
“ICN greatly appreciates the support of Reading Climate Change Partnership and Reading Borough Council for this event.”
Media opportunities – please contact
|Mary Singleton-White, Conference co-ordinator (Reading) (Mary@just-ideas.co.uk) Tel 07981 621059||Michila Critchley, Programme Manager, InterClimate Network (Michila.Critchley@interclimate.org) Tel 07790 252771|
|Amanda McDonnell Media & Communications Manager Reading Borough Council (Amanda.McDonnell@reading.gov.uk) Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU 07929 847 076 Out of hours (media enquiries only) 07808 138932|
Notes to Editors
1. Conference Agenda and Summary
A climate conference for secondary schools will take place in the Council Chambers of Reading Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU. It will provide the opportunity for students to engage in UN-style COP27 critical debate, and to meet and put their questions to local decision-makers.
The Mayor of Reading, cabinet members and senior officers of the council will join students from six local schools. ICN is also grateful to the Reading Climate Change Partnership for their support for what promises to be a lively and informative event.
|09.00am||Registration and arrival. (Set up from 8am)|
|09.30 Welcome and opening speeches||The Mayor of Reading will open proceedings|
|09.40 Part 1: Global Negotiations 1.1 Progress since Paris 2015 1.2 Raising global ambition 1.3 Actions and resolutions||Part 1 of the conference will be run as if students are taking part in global negotiations at COP27. Schools will each form two or three country teams. Each team is asked to prepare their delegation’s (short) opening speech, about one minute in length. They will represent their country’s views and address key questions to then decide a climate resolution that will be taken to COP27.|
|11am||Two minutes’ silence – Remembrance Day|
|12:40 Part 2: Local Action 2.1 Climate Question Time 2.2 Pledges for climate action in school||Part 2 brings the issues close to home so that young people can have a say about climate action in their area. In a ‘Climate Question Time’, local decision-makers will make short contributions and young people will be invited to put forward their questions and contributions to the panel. The session will end with pledges for actions, including ways to make the most difference in school.|
2. About InterClimate Network and our Resources
InterClimate Network (ICN) is the brand of the charity, InterClimate Trust. ICN’s schools’ programme has a track-record of inspiring youth voices and advocacy on climate change through its long-running model climate conferences in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Reading, Solihull, Liverpool and West London, alongside other work inspiring youth climate voices and action in schools through workshops, resources and Climate Action Surveys.
For COP27 ICN has updated our award-winning COP in the Classroom resource and continued its objective to sharply focus on lived experience of climate change around the world, particularly for young people and the most vulnerable. Working with our Erasmus+ I-CAN project partners, this resource now forms part of a comprehensive new Climate Action Toolkit. Find out more at: https://interclimate.org/climate-conferences/