Climate change trip for Cockburn Academy

On February 12th 2020 myself and three other students from Cockburn School attended a Youth Voice Summit for Tackling Climate Change. It was an all-day event which took place in the Leeds Civic Hall, and it was attended by 116 students and staff from 21 high schools and colleges around Leeds. The day offered a range of insightful, informative and engaging activities and workshops which allowed us all to not only get a better idea of how climate change affects us and our city, but also how we can tackle it as individuals and as a community.

The first workshop of the day was co-facilitated by Philosophy tutors from Sheffield and Leeds Universities. They worked with us to help us come up with questions about climate change. We then used these questions in the second workshop of the day, which was a Q&A session with a panel of experts. The panel consisted of: Councillor Judith Blake – Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Lisa Mulherin – Lead Member for Climate Transport and Sustainable Development, Councillor Fiona Venner – Lead Member for Children Young People and Families, Councillor Neil Walshaw – Chair of Climate Emergency Advisory Committee and Professor Julia Steinberger – Social Ecology & Ecological Economics – Leeds University. We all got the chance to bring up any questions or queries we had surrounding the climate emergency, and these were met by some very clear and helpful answers from the panel.

It was then time for a lunch break, but there were still things to do in this time. Some of these things included learning more about the Sustainable Schools Programme, and ordering a free supply of tree saplings for our school from Child Friendly Leeds. We could also take part in a consultation for We Are IVE and sign up to join the Leeds Youth Council. So many exciting opportunities for students and our school to get involved with!

Then it was time for the final workshop of the day. It was run by elected members and council officers who represented the City Council’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee. Within our school groups we had to come up with ways to reduce the carbon footprint in our homes, schools and communities. It was a great opportunity to really consider what we can do as individuals and together as schools and communities to really make a difference. And the best part was that the ideas we came up with would be used to shape the content of the official “tackling climate change” guidance that will be issued to students later in 2020. It really felt our voices and ideas were being heard. Some of the main ideas we came up with were promoting a sustainable travel initiative in schools, organising a litter pick in the local community and getting families to commit to Meat Free Mondays at home; all of which would help to lower the carbon footprint in these areas. Many other ideas such as school uniform swap initiatives and community allotments were discussed too, a lot of which we made a note of a took back to our school to talk about within school council and hopefully implement where possible.

Overall the trip was an amazing day which everyone really enjoyed. It gave us an insight into the climate emergency and the steps we can make to tackle this, and it did so in a fun and interesting way. A great event for all involved!

Claire Walker, Higher Education Progression Officer at Cockburn Academy