Last week we were delighted to be a part of Bristol’s Model UN Climate Conference – An annual event that welcomes young people from schools and colleges across the city to debate action on climate change.

The event was attended by students from Badminton School, Bristol Free School, Bristol Grammar School, Henbury School, Redland Green Academy and St. Brendan’s 6th Form College with each group of young people representing one of 15 countries from Fiji to USA.

The students gave detailed opening statements about their country’s progress and also made skilful use of their research in critical questioning of other countries. Every country team contributed valuable points, with some showing realistic frustrations when major emitters of the world appeared too slow in taking up the global commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The clear messages the students gave for everyone in the Council Chambers were:

  • the immediacy of the effects of climate change for every country in the world, the effects being especially hard-hitting for vulnerable countries
  • the complexity of decision-making and contradictions of policy-making, particularly where economic interests based on fossil fuels, and political reticence are taking precedence
  • the vital part that cooperation between countries can play in increasing momentum by helping to distribute finance, and to learn from great ideas that are already working elsewhere in the world.

The second part of the conference brought Local Action into sharp focus. The extent of the commitment to climate action by Local Government was strongly conveyed in addresses by Councillor Kye Dudd and James Sterling of the council’s Energy Service.

A full conference room of sustainability experts from local organisations and council teams’ initiatives provided details of great local work and ways for students to make a difference: from saving energy in school, to signing up to a wildlife initiative, to influencing the way we use transport. Each school went away with at least one idea or ‘pledge’ for what they can do, and ICN will follow to make sure that the tools are in place for going about it.

We want to say a big thank you to the InterClimate Network for organising such an excellent event for the young people of Bristol and helping to shape the next generation of climate activists.