On July 1st the Help Wales Reduce it’s Carbon Footprint division of the Welsh government held a Countdown to Copenhagen conference for 300 young people in Swansea. The event, which included several speakers, workshops, and interactive activities sought to engage youth and enable them to make their opinions heard regarding what should be done in Wales and across the world when it comes to the serious problem of climate change.
“We think it is very important for youth to be involved with the problem of climate change as it is their future that will face the worse consequences. We feel it is important that they are educated about the effects of climate change and informed of the necessary action required to reduce harmful emissions and encouraged to cascade this to others,” says Andrew Thomas of the Welsh government.
The conference featured several talks by climate change activists such as Mark Lynas (www.marklynas.org) and Jane Davidson, the Environment Minister for Wales. The greatest success, however, were the workshops, which engaged the participants to learn about the issue in a creative group, setting. Mr. Thomas found the workshops to be empowering for the delegates who “enjoyed their involvement and the ability to put their ideas and questions forward for consideration without fear of being rejected,” and stresses the need for as much youth participation as possible.
The conference also allowed the participants to make their voices heard to policy makers by recording short messages in a video booth that will be taken to COP15 by the Welsh delegation.
A common sentiment among participants of the conference was that youth need to have a more active role in finding a solution for climate change, as it will be the youth that will inherit the future. “The most common responses suggested by the audience was the need to raise awareness of climate change, monitor energy and water usage, be more eco-friendly, recycle more, encourage action in schools and local communities, join youth forums and be empowered to take action,” the organizers said.
In an effort to empower more youth with the skills to educate others and tackle the problem of climate change, the Welsh government has announced six Climate Change Champions between the ages of 14 and 17 who will continue the great work that this conference has begun. “Their role entails going to events within local communities to educate the public about actions they can take in response to climate change, to give presentations and answer questions and queries, to represent their local areas and to reinforce the policies and strategies we as a government produce.”
To learn more about the work of Help Wales Reduce its Carbon Footprint visit: http://wales.gov.uk/walescarbonfootprint/home/