OVER 80 pupils aged between 16-18 from 28 schools across Northern Ireland played the part of politicians, journalists, and lobbyists today (Wednesday, 16 November) to debate on the climate crisis.
They were taking part in British Council Northern Ireland’s COP27 Climate Simulation Negotiation at Belfast City Hall and had the opportunity to find out what it’s really like to negotiate a climate deal.
The event kicked off with a keynote address from Debbie Caldwell, Climate Commissioner, Belfast City Council, with the debate taking place to coincide with the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, which runs until 18 November.
During the negotiations, the pupils had to agree on a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and successfully reduced global temperature rises to 1.8°C, with countries on target to reduce temperatures to 1.5°C by 2030. To do this, they used computer software developed by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate simulation.
They were led by Dr Peter Doran, Queen’s University Belfast, Senior Lecturer in Law, with pupils also zooming in to the event live from Egypt - with the British Columbia Canadian International School in El Sharouk taking on the role of the UK as part of the proceedings.
Attending the event was student Logan Brown, from Methodist College Belfast who represented the Secretariat General.
He said: “Today we overwhelmingly succeeded in our goal to reduce climate emissions. Our aim was to reduce greenhouse emissions drastically and we were able to agree well below two degrees Celsius. That was achieved as everybody was able to work very well together, making sure no countries were left behind or would lose out. It was also great to have schools from Egypt join us today and get their insight into the different issues, especially with COP27 currently in Sharm El-Sheikh. Today gave us a flavour of what is possible, what we can hope for and what we can work towards as young people.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Peter Doran said: "Warm congratulations to all the students today – not just because of the outcome, but for their diligence and the good faith that they have put into the negotiations. This event shows there's a ray of hope in the midst of this climate and civilizational emergency it is the courage and leadership of young people. Many of us 'grown-ups' lose the art of asking the right questions along the way. Young people are less invested in business-as-usual. Today at Belfast City Hall we have the privilege of working with upcoming global citizens, a generation who have come to understand that activism for the planet and justice is the royal road to wellbeing and the good life."
Also commenting on the event was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland. He said: “Well done to all those involved in today’s event - I’m delighted that young people from across Northern Ireland and Egypt have been able to come together to actively engage in the challenges of climate change.
“This event put pupils at the head of the negotiating table giving them a real flavour of what negotiations such as those taking place at COP27 are like, giving them the skills and confidence to take on some of the world’s biggest challenges.”
The initiative is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme which supports people globally to find creative solutions to climate change in support of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheik this month. The British Council is supporting the summit by engaging with networks of young Egyptians, education professionals, students, academics, researchers, artists, civil society leaders and policymakers to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.
This programme continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Northern Ireland visit nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. To find out more about The Climate Connection visit https://www.britishcouncil.org/climate-connection/get-involved/cop27