Form 6 pupil James took part in two virtual youth climate conferences, ran by the UK-German Connection that were held in collaboration with the British and German embassies.
James reports on the events:-
“Both conferences had a specific focus, the first covering COY16 (Conference of Youth) in Milan, and the second, COP26 in Glasgow, with guest speakers from the UK and Germany.
Youth representatives spoke about their experiences at the COY16 and it was interesting to discover they believed they were not being taken seriously, since key world leaders sent video clips instead of attending personally, not giving them the opportunity to ask questions.
During the conference about COP26 we participated in a survey to find out what we all thought about the outcomes of COP and if we thought they were sufficient enough, and when looking at the results most people had a pejorative perspective. However, it was beneficial to hear from people that were actually part of the negotiations and the progress they made. The British representative emphasised the importance of agreements made with Non-State Actors (instead of solely governments) in reducing their emissions with the Race to Zero initiative. This rallied support from these NSAs to commit to science based targets to become carbon neutral, and created rules about not offsetting: companies emit lots of carbon and just pay for more trees to be planted abroad, instead of actually cutting net emissions.
After the presentations, we had the opportunity to discuss our opinions about COY and COP in breakout rooms, and it was intriguing to find out about the German perspective, since most people believe they are very forward-thinking and technological, yet actually I discovered that they are not making much progress in reducing their emissions, especially with Nord Stream 2 (an oil line linking Germany and Russia).
We also created our own sustainability challenge to complete between the conferences, and I opted to install solar panels in my shed to make it independent from mains electricity– fortunately, I was able to get a used car battery for free from a local parts retailer. This tied in well with the 30 days Sustainability Challenge at School since it was during the same time period, for which I decided to only buy second hand electronics for my projects, with the aim of powering them using the solar panels.”