It’s Now or Never. 12 Years to Reverse Climate Change – Young People Step up to the Challenge

STUDENTS will gather in the Council Chamber next week to enter into some heated negotiations around Climate Change.

With United Nations talks in Poland (COP24) starting next week, young people from Reading will take the role of 15 countries to negotiate their commitments to tackle climate change.  In an afternoon of tough questions and detailed discussion on Wednesday December 5th, they will debate their nominated country’s targets.

Reading secondary school pupils are being asked to rise to the greatest threat to all our futures – securing action on Climate Change that will keep temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The mock UN conference will be opened by the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards, and is backed by the Reading Climate Change Partnership (RCCP) and Reading Borough Council.  It is organised by InterClimate Network, a British charity dedicated to helping young people understand and take action on climate change and sustainability.

Renowned climate scientist, Professor Paul Williams, from University of Reading, will address the students and emphasise to them the realities of climate change and that human interference is driving the speed of change.

Professor Williams said:

“Temperature anomalies are now well outside the range of natural climate variability, and are explainable only by humankind’s CO2 emissions.

“The latest special report to the UN, which brought together findings of hundreds of trusted scientists across the world, shows we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming, from the powerful effects of more frequent extreme weather to massive reduction in Arctic sea ice.”

Above all else, this IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report tells the world it has to act, and act now.

The format of the students’ own conference in Reading will bring local action into sharp focus, with RCCP kicking off the second part of the event with a vision of Zero Carbon Reading.  Following their global debate, young people will join ‘local action’ workshops covering themes from biodiversity, food choices and water savings through to local innovations in transport, Vision 2050 and waste and recycling.

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport and a member of the Reading Climate Change Partnership Board, who will also be speaking at the event, said:

“Climate change is a subject which young people rightly feel passionate about. It will be good to see so many young people debating in the Council Chamber and leading by example in becoming the generation that will deliver a world powered by clean energy and averting runaway Climate Change.

“The Council has made big strides in the last few years in reducing its own carbon footprint, but as we have said many times tackling climate change is everybody’s business. It will be interesting and stimulating to hear the young people’s views on how we can achieve a Zero Carbon Reading.”

Editor’s Notes

PHOTOCALL: You are invited to send a photographer to the Climate Change discussion event on Wednesday December 5th at 11.45am.

1. Model Climate Conference & Local Action Summit on 5 December, Council Chambers, Reading Civic Offices. Students from Year 8 to Year 12 are to participate from: The Bulmershe School, Highdown School, Kendrick School, Maiden Erlegh in Reading, Prospect School, Waingels College.

2. The InterClimate Network twitter account @ClimateVoicesUK used the hashtags #ClimateAction #ReadingClimateConference #SchoolsClimateConfs #COP24 during and after the event.

3.  190 countries will meet in Katowice, Poland in December for the annual UN Climate Conference, COP24 and it must get results on action towards all countries’ Paris Agreement targets to cut Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. https://unfccc.int/katowice

4. The Reading Climate Change Partnership is a partnership of public and private and community sectors and oversees the delivery of the Reading Climate Change Strategy.  See http://2020.reading-council.org.uk/climate-change/  and  https://readingcan.org.uk/

5. Professor Paul D Williams is Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, UK.  See http://www.met.reading.ac.uk/~williams/

6. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.  It has 195 member states.  The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC , known as SR15, is being prepared in response to an invitation from the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, when they reached the Paris Agreement, and will inform the Talanoa Dialogue at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24).  See http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

7. UK government Year of Green Action a year-long drive to see more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world.  See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/young-people-join-together-for-year-of-green-action

8. Contributors to the conference: Councillor Tony Page, Nature Nurture, Reading Borough Council Sustainability Team, Reading Buses, Reading Climate Change Partnership, Reading International Solidarity Centre, Reading 2050, Stuart Singleton-White Consultant, University of Reading Dept of Environmental Science.

9. The model conference is part of a 3 year project called Climate Voices II developed and implemented by InterClimate Network and co-funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. ICN is a brand and trading style belonging to The InterClimate Trust, Charity No 1100981. (www.interclimate.org ). Model Climate Conferences & Local Action Summits, each involving students from local secondary schools, will also be held in:

·        Cheltenham Council Chambers, 27th November

·        Solihull Council Chambers, 28th November

·        Bristol City Hall, 4th December

10.  Contact

Michila Critchley, Programme Co-ordinator, InterClimate Network.

E: michila.critchley@interclimate.org    M: 07790 252771

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301