New Voices on Climate Change
We can say with certainty that humankind is changing the Earth’s climate: we’ve heard the warnings of the effects of climate change across the globe and what we need to do now to solve it (in the UK, our Climate Change Act commits us to a reduction of carbon emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050).
To achieve long term, sustainable change it is crucial that the next generation are engaged in the conversation on climate change. So, how best to get young people talking about their carbon footprint?
Earlier this month I attended the RSA’s ‘New Voices on Climate Change’ event, which brought young students together to voice their opinions on how we can individually and collectively act to change the fate of our planet. The event was part of an initiative by the RSA and the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) that proposes that climate change should be understood as a challenge with seven dimensions: science, law, economy, technology, democracy, culture and behaviour.
Students from Year 8 to A-Level were given a platform to deliver talks on climate change and to discuss the potential ways forward in the future. ‘Collective apathy’ was identified as a significant problem; whilst many are aware of climate change, there is a great need for a shift in culture to encourage more people to speak about the issue and to act in a way that will have the most favourable impact on our planet. Speakers suggested small changes in lifestyle, such as recycling and cycling to work, and identified the role of institutions such as schools and the power of legislation in influencing widespread change.
The debate on the uncertain future of our planet – and how we should act to save it – is one that will undoubtedly continue to consume generations to come. It was inspiring to listen to such passionate views from young people with a desire to create constructive action on climate change, and it highlighted the importance of engaging and giving a platform to the next generation of ‘new’ voices.