On Friday, 5 November, sixth form pupils from across Northern Ireland came together to debate on the biggest issue facing the planet – the climate crisis.
They were taking part in our COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings Stormont, which saw the pupils play the part of world leaders, lobbying groups or media, in a bid to discover what it’s like to negotiate a real climate deal.
The event, which used computer software by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate simulation, was taking place to coincide with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, which runs until 12 November.
During the negotiations, the pupils had to collectively agree on how much they were going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by with current temperatures set to rise by 3.8°C, how they would help struggling nations, and agree on ways to adapt to climate change to protect their cities and people.
The negotiations were led by Dr Peter Doran, Senior Lecturer in Law, from Queen’s University Belfast, 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.
"Our future generations have no hope if we don’t do something now and get together and change. I know it’s difficult and very complex, but politics shouldn’t be involved – it should be about the future of humanity, being kind and working together.”
Speaking at the event was Cameron Muir, from Regent House Grammar School, who represented the United Nations Secretary-General.
He said: “At the end of the negotiations we ended up agreeing to global temperature rises below 2.3 °C, which obviously isn’t ideal, as we were hoping to get below 2°C. But everyone worked really hard - all our leaders were campaigning to get funding for climate solutions and really worked well together, it was a good effort for sure.
“Today was a great experience and gives us an insight into what is happening in Glasgow this week at COP26. Our future generations have no hope if we don’t do something now and get together and change. I know it’s difficult and very complex, but politics shouldn’t be involved – it should be about the future of humanity, being kind and working together.”
The event is part of British Council’s global programme, The Climate Connection, which brings people together through arts and culture, education, and the English language to address the climate emergency through a global programme of activity and engagement, with particular focus on young people aged 11 to 35. The programme supports young people to gain the skills and connections they need to address climate challenges
Through the programme, the British Council has reached almost two million people online and directly engaged with over 2,000 young people to date, including indigenous communities, artists, academics, scientists, and creative innovators, to find long-lasting, creative ways to tackle multiple issues relating to the climate crisis.