Monday, 6 December 2010

DECC Youth Panel presents... 'Energy: How fair is it anyway?'

Over the past few months, Daisy and I (two of the ‘Copenhagen 4’) have sat on the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC’s) Youth Advisory Panel. Our role is to advise DECC about the youth perspective on their policies, and to embed the ideas of intergenerational equity and long termism into their decision making process.

The Panel was formed in February of this year, and comprises around 16 core members, each representing a range of organisations – I was representing UNICEF, but Oxfam, the National Union of Students, the Scouts, People and Planet, WWF, Plan, UKYCC and many other groups were also represented. We met a few times to discuss how we were going to work and what sort of things we would be doing, and the civil servants we met seemed to welcome us as genuinely helpful in letting them know what young people thought about the work they were doing.

In July, we were finally given our first proper project. DECC is launching their ‘Roadmap to 2050’ early next year, which is their vision of how the UK can meet its self-imposed target of 80% emissions reduction by mid-century. They wanted us to investigate our own pathway to 2050, and we were lucky enough to be funded by Sciencewise to create our own report on the issue. They’ve launched their own (rather complicated) ‘Pathways Calculator’, which you can use to find out how you might sort out our energy problems.

The energy mix of 2050 is something that is uniquely relevant to young people. We are going to be the ones who will live with the decisions made today, so the Panel decided to travel around the country, visiting places that demonstrate potentially relevant energy technologies for 2050. From offshore wind to coal fired-power stations, and from a nuclear plant to an eco-friendly home, we investigated the implications of different sorts of energy solutions to the problem of how we’ll produce and use energy in a low-carbon way over the next few decades.


Shocked by the amount we learned on one of the visits!

Having visited sites around the UK and surveyed hundreds of young people on their thoughts, we were able to launch a pretty well-informed and comprehensive report last Thursday, called Energy: How fair is it anyway?. Our recommendations included things like phasing out coal-fired power stations (at least, those which lacked technology to reduce their emissions) within the decade and a 0% VAT rate on home energy efficiency improvement measures. We also asked the government to develop a clear long term strategy for dealing with nuclear waste, in the interests of intergenerational equity. You can view the rest of the report and the recommendations we made HERE.

I was lucky enough to sit on the presenting Panel, along with two other Panellists and Prof. David MacKay, the Chief Scientific Adviser to DECC. We talked a bit about the report and tried to answer questions about the specifics of our recommendations. The audience comprised civil servants, representatives from our organisations and other interested parties. It was also streamed live online, and we had video links with young people at climate conferences in Cancun and Brussels. You can find out more about the launch and see how it happened HERE.

Me, trying to think of something to say...

It felt great not only to be part of a unique experiment of embedding the voices of young people in government, but also to be given the opportunity to represent the Panel in our first public launch event. The inclusion of the youth perspective in high-level decision-making is essential, especially with regards to issues like climate change. Let’s hope it continues!

Please read the report, discuss it in your schools and colleges, and let us know what you think of it by emailing us at youthpanel@think2050.org! You can also see the Panel’s blog HERE.

Thanks!

Luke

Monday, 20 September 2010

Does yellow plus blue equal green?

One of the many perks of being a young climate volunteer is that you get to explore every corner of the UK; from Newcastle, to Wales and the ins and outs of the London underground. Yesterday, I travelled up to Liverpool to take part in one of the fringe events at the Liberal Democrat party conference.


Organised by UNICEF UK, Christian Aid and the Climate Clinic, the session was titled 'What does a Lib Dem response to global climate change look like?'. This was only the first of many difficult questions that were raised and explored during the evening.



The Panel leading the session consisted of Neil Stocklev of the Liberal Sustainability Network and the Zero Carbon Britain working group, Alex Cobham, Christian Aid's Chief Policy Advisor, Fiona Hall MEP and little old me! Needless to say, I felt quite daunted sitting on such an experienced and influential panel and in front of an audience of MPs, NGOs and researchers.


But then I considered the idea that the whole discussion was about my future; about if and how the Lib Dems are safeguarding my future rights and wellbeing in 2050. At the risk of sounding arrogant, it was them who had to impress me, not the other way around.


The Liberal Democrats have always been one of the most progressive parties when it comes to policy on global climate change, but now they are in power, how are they translating this sentiment into government action? Fiona spoke of Chris Huhne's drive to push the EU for a 30% greenhouse gas reductions target by 2020 and also their pledge to cut central government emissions by 10% in the next 12 months - the 10:10 campaign.


However, if Nick Clegg and David Cameron are really going to live up to their promise of being 'the greenest government ever', more needs to be done. Alex of Christian Aid called for ambition and leadership from the UK Government and for them to accept their responsibilities on the global stage. And that's where I suggest young people come in.


Not only is it important to recognise that the decisions made today will impact future generations, but aslo to value the role that young people can have in shaping that future. From my experience at UNICEF Children's Climate Forum, young people embrace the opportunity to act as global citizens with moral long-term principles. We can accept the challenges, sacrifices and opportunities that lie ahead, and I hope that, by working alongside young people, the UK Government can too.


Katie x

Monday, 13 September 2010

UNICEF UK goes to the Thames Festival


Luckily the weather was fine in London on Saturday night – I was at the Thames Festival (pictured left our stall with volunteers Mya and Sonal who were collecting signatures on Sunday) getting signatures for UNICEF UK's petition to Nick Clegg on the Millennium Development Goals.
You might have heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a series of goals set by the UN in 2000. There are 8 goals to be achieved by 2015;

• Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
• Achieve universal primary education
• Promote gender equality and empower women
• Reduce child mortality
• Improve maternal health
• Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases
• Ensure environmental sustainability
• Develop a Global Partnership for Development

On 20th of September world leaders are attending a review meeting in New York to discuss the progression of the MDGs and accelerate progress towards achieving the goals by 2015.

At the moment, we're not on target to meet the goals. For example approximately 1.5 million children still die every year due to preventable illnesses caused by poor sanitation or lack of clean water and 280,000 children under 15 die of AIDS related illnesses.

UNICEF UK’s petition is going to Nick Clegg as the UK's representative at the meeting next week to ask him to;

• increase funding for safe water and toilets for those who have been left behind and persuade other governments to do the same
• prioritise the rights of girls and other disadvantaged groups of children living in the least developed countries in his speech and in the agenda for action on the UN goals in order to secure the greatest progress
• put in place taxes on the financial sector (the 'Robin Hood Tax') that could raise up to £20 billion a year and for that money to be spent helping the poor at home and abroad and tackling climate change

We had a really successful evening at the Thames Festival, and got a very good reception from the festival-goers. We managed to get a total of over 1,000 signatures and raised awareness of the MDGs and the need to put pressure on world leaders to ensure they up the ante and make sure the goals are met by 2015.

If you haven't already, please sign the e-petition at www.tagd.org.uk/takeaction before it closes on 19th September.

Ruby :-)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Volunteering at Underage

By Georgina Johnson.
Hi

My name’s Georgina and I was a part of the volunteer team for the UNICEF Tagd stall at the Underage Festival in Victoria park, London on August 1st.

Having found out about UNICEF through a friend who had been volunteering with them for quite some time, I was eager to get involved.

Alice from UNICEF UK organised a volunteers’ briefing at their office the week before Underage. This was a chance for all the volunteers to meet, converse and generally become comfortable with one and another. It was great!

The briefing began with an icebreaker in which we each were paired with someone we didn’t know. My partner, Flo, was hilarious, which made it so much easier to talk and work together. Then Alice and Anne told us about UNICEF UK’s current campaign on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and about the 'Robin Hood Tax'.

As David Cameron will be on paternity leave (I know, awww), Nick Clegg his deputy will be attending the important MDGs review meeting at the UN in New York. UNICEF UK is promoting a petition to Nick Clegg asking for access to toilets for children all over the world. The aim for Underage was to get 1000 signatures for the petition to show the support of the public for our cause.

I must admit when I heard 1000, I was like ‘wow!’, but after meeting with the organisation and honestly feeling the positivity of each individual I was more than confident we could meet our objective.

THE EVENT!

The morning of Underage: Woke up early, had plenty of calls reminding me of the TIME and left my house earlier than ever. We met Alice outside Victoria park and once we received our state of the art 'ARENA' armbands and the UNICEF t-shirts it was official , we were a team!

Before the actual event started, we had to set up the stall, which meant having to fight with a severely stubborn blow up armchair, arranging leaflets and putting up banners. That was soon done, but then I had to experience the dreaded portaloos. Once witnessing firsthand the inside of one in all its glory, I persuaded everyone to simply hold it and wait.

As the crowds of teenagers rushed in, we all got ready for action. Approaching people was much easier than I thought. I went for the ‘normal conversation approach’ and most people reacted really positively.

We worked in teams of three and got as many signatures as we could - we all just wanted to achieve our goal! At times we ran out of fuel, but we reminded each other of what and who we were doing this for and the lovely opportunity we had been given.

I didn’t feel as though I was missing out on the actual festival, I could hear the music very clearly from where we were situated. Alice and Anne gave us equal time to each watch some of the artists we liked and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Chiddy Bang , Chase and Status and Tiny Tempah were the highlights for me. Every time a song that everyone knew came on everybody sang in chorus. It was GREAT!

Later on in the day we found out that we had smashed our target! I think at that point everyone was elated. Anne kept on saying – 'Let’s bulldoze past that 1000 target and run straight through, you can do it guys'. And we did. I think we collected around 1500 signatures. Everyone was happy, we’d all helped to make a point: Young people care.

At the end of the day we had time to watch M.I.A, an artist I have long waited to see! M.I.A, being a bit diva-ish, came a bit late, but no one cared, as soon as we heard the sirens and her voice in the distance everyone was on fire. She performed Born free and Paper Planes as her finale whilst I was pushed and shoved to the front by who knows who,
As the show came to a close I reflected on the successes of the day and smiled.

Thank you UNICEF.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tagd at Underage Festival

William Stringer was our lucky winner of tickets to the Underage Festival. Here he writes about his day in London, and what he found out about how UNICEF puts it right for children everywhere.


By William Stringer
My name’s William and I was the lucky winner of UNICEF Tagd’s competition for tickets to the Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London on Sunday 1st August. I only found out about the competition because I was researching some information about the upcoming Millennium Development Goals being held in September.

I simply sent off my answer to the question along with some contact details; it was actually so easy that I thought I had done it wrong! Afterwards, if I’m honest, I completely forgot about the competition. I’m one of those really annoying people who go on about never winning anything. Therefore, as soon as I sent the email, I resigned myself to believing that there was no chance.

So you can imagine my shock when I got a phone call saying that I had won the tickets. I remember distinctly not really being able to form sentences together, so much was my excitement. And that’s how I came to be jetting off from Belfast to Gatwick.

Underage Festival was blessed with beautiful summer weather, thankfully no need for my summer jacket. My first port of call was the UNICEF tent which was brimming with some of the friendliest people in London, a stark contrast to the silent underground I had just travelled on. I was given a Fairtrade tote bag and, in exchange, gave them my email address to aid UNICEF’s current campaign to provide millions of children with access to proper sanitation. The tote bag came in handy as I was able to stash my jacket in and head off to listen to some music.

Haduken played an impressive set claiming we were the “maddest crowd they had played to all summer”. Dust clouds erupted from beneath worn out feet, as we danced to various musicians from Ellie Goulding to No Mean City. The atmosphere was amazing, everyone excitedly hurrying between the six stages so as not to miss any of their favourite bands. I’d like to thank UNICEF Tagd for the opportunity to go to Underage Festival - it was great fun! I urge anyone to get more involved with their work in campaigning for children’s rights and also sign their campaign action to enable children across the world to get safe water and sanitation. UNICEF Tagd got 1575 people to sign up to the action at the Festival, but they need many thousands more to get Nick Clegg to ensure a fairer future by prioritising the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Sign the action now and tell all your friends!

Why not work for UNICEF? A work experience account

Read about how Kathryn discovered a future vocation at UNICEF.

"Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job... for a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events".

By Kathryn

Hello, my name is Kathryn and for the past week I have been doing a weeks Work Experience at the UNICEF office in Billericay.

When our school told us in January that we must pick somewhere to do a work experience I must admit I completely panicked. I had no idea where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to be when I was older. To make things worse the majority of my friends all had very good ideas of what their futures held for them. After a lot of thought and deliberation I settled on working in an office...and then it hit me why not work for UNICEF? It is so close to my house and I had always wanted to see how a charity worked as I didn't believe it could be as simple as just sending money in and it being sent to the people who needed it. I was not mistaken.

On my first day I was nervous but everyone was so friendly I soon felt at ease. I was given a timetable informing me what I would be doing all week, and it surprised me how many different departments there were. So I spent Monday working at the Helpdesk, inputting details and then printing off letters for people. I also learnt about all the different websites that UNICEF have, and was interested to discover the Tagd website, especially for younger people.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and found myself tired, from not being used to working a 9-5 day, but still eager to work. I spent the day with Internal Services, and again everyone was really friendly and welcoming. I logged the Schools participating in Day For Change, and when I return to school in September will mention it to the Sixth Form Committee and see if they are interested. I also had to cut up ten banners to be sent off with a packet for a run, and sadly using a pair of scissors is not my strong point, but I managed and they came out fine.

A visit to Head House in London was in store for Wednesday and I was looking forward to seeing the other office. I had three meetings and learnt a lot about the different campaigns, the Rights Respecting School Award (RRSA) and alternate ways of fundraising. After eating our lunch on the balcony, in the sunshine, it was time to return to Billericay. After a delay and kerfuffle at Liverpool Street we finally caught a train and arrived back in time for me to help sort the cheques in the Donations department. After putting so many letters in envelopes the day before it was a nice change to be taking letters and cheques out. The following day I was to be putting the donations onto the system. It was lovely to see how many people were willing to donate to such a good cause.

Yesterday I think I discovered my dream job. Not only at UNICEF can you sit and look at pictures of some of the celebrity ambassadors...but in the Baby Friendly Department Karen told me all about her job which involved researching the hotels and train times for all the different courses on breast feeding around the country. It sounded amazing. For a while now I have been interested in a job where you can organise events and this sounded perfect.

Now sitting here reflecting my week, I've decided it's true what our teachers told us. "After work experience you will know what career you will want to go into." Which at the time I thought unlikely, now however I am now definitely considering working for a charity once I have hopefully been to University.

So with a huge thankyou to everyone at UNICEF who have all been so lovely and welcoming to me this week I will leave my first blog at this.

Find out more information about work experience at UNICEF.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Green light for Start

Promoting and celebrating sustainable living.

As you may well know, HRH The Prince of Wales, was waving the green flag long before it was considered mainstream and is still leading the environmental agenda today. The Prince's Charities Foundation has recently set up a national initative, called Start, to help people across the UK not only live more sustainably, but also get excited about what a sustainable future may look like. Instead of playing the strict parent, and forbidding the naughty children from flying or eating meat, Start focuses on the personal and positive oppotunities that arise from living sustainably.

Speaking at the launch of Start in Manchester, February 2010, The Prince of Wales said

'Far too few talk about the potential for a sustainable future to be better and more rewarding - both for us and for Nature - than the lives we lead now. This potential needs to be communicated across the country and, indeed, across the world.'
IBM, one of Start's partners, is leading a nine day summit in September, where business leaders can come together to discuss sustainability. The summit will be taking place in the very fancy Lancaster House, alongside Start's 'Garden Party to Make a Difference'.

The Prince of Wales and UK business leaders


I, along with members of the UK Youth Parliament and IBM's young interns, have become involved in helping to plan one of these days, which focuses on young people. The 'Start Young' day will bring together over 100 young people, inspiring and connecting the future leaders of the UK and providing them with a platform to voice their ideas about a sustainable future.

The IBM Start Young day is on September 12th. Don't miss your chance to attend this great event and start a revolution! Register here by Monday 16th August.

Katie x

Friday, 23 July 2010

UNICEF UK offices uncovered!

Behind the glossy website and sleek leaflets there is a normal, friendly, biscuit-tin-stashing office…

By Mya Goschalk.

On 20th July my week’s work experience at the UNICEF UK offices began. Starting off flustered and a little late, I got stuck into helping out straight away. I was asked to research UNICEF UK’s latest campaign on sanitation and water and write a synopsis about it for the Tagd e-newsletter. I also completed a similar task a few days later for the UNICEF UK monthly Parliamentary newsletter. I drafted two articles on child rights issues- one on guardianship for child trafficking victims and the other on a campaign to stop sexual violence against children.

During my time at UNICEF UK I was pleasantly surprised at how the tasks I was given to do were genuinely needed and important. Before I went I knew that UNICEF is centred on children’s rights, but I didn’t realise that even on something such as work experience the opinions of a young person like me would be listened to so much! I was flattered at how I was asked to give my thoughts and feedback on different UNICEF UK initiatives, such as-

• The Tagd website and what could be improved about it
• What UNICEF UK should do at the stall at the Underage Festival
• Giving ideas for a project to encourage students, schools and universities to campaign

In doing all of this I really felt that in some small way I was shaping future events and projects held by UNICEF UK.

I learnt about the structure of UNICEF- how the main office in New York is connected to the different sections all over the world, with different functions for those in developed and developing countries.

Spending this time at UNICEF UK has allowed me to see what happens during the process of making campaigns and running the charity. When you see UNICEF stalls or campaigners it is hard to imagine what must happen for it to run smoothly… little did I know that planning a professional-looking stall would consist of sitting round a table chatting about ideas and eating cake!

I would really encourage anyone who is interested in child rights, or development to get involved with UNICEF. There are so many ways to do this, and some ideas are - volunteering, work experience or campaigning on issues from the Tagd website.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Work experience with UNICEF - the insider's view!

Josie's view
Hey, my name is Josie. I’ve just finished doing my AS levels at school - which means it’s come to that terrifying time in life when I have to decide what I want to do with my future! I’ve always been interested in working for UNICEF, or something similar, because I really want to work abroad and generally make a difference. So, when I saw on the UNICEF website that you could do work experience with them I was really excited and applied – now I’m lucky enough to be sitting in the UNICEF UK office telling you all about it! And funnily enough someone else had the same idea…

Lucia's view
Hi, my name is Lucia. I was lucky enough to finish my GCSEs before the rest of my friends, meaning I had a week to do whatever I wanted before the summer holidays started! I’ve always had an interest in UNICEF and the amazing work they do all over the world. The idea of working for an organisation like UNICEF, or WHO, in the future really appeals to me so, when I saw that UNICEF UK offered work experience I was very excited!

Monday morning - Josie and I arrived at the office in London at the same time, even though we’d never met! After we finally worked out how to open the doors, we were met by Rosie, who was to be our supervisor for the week. We were shown around and introduced to everyone we’d be working with. We both felt really welcome straight away – all the team are so lovely and friendly!

Our first task was to help the media team with their epic job of going through ALL the weekend and day’s newspapers, looking for any stories relevant to UNICEF and their work. It was an interesting opportunity to get a better insight into what UNICEF UK is really involved in. This took quite a while! When we were done, we were asked to help organise and research data about MPs. It felt satisfying to help as this information is going to be used in UNICEF UK’s efforts to implement the Robin Hood Tax.

The next day started again with media monitoring, and would for the rest of the week. This didn’t matter – it never got boring – there were interesting stories every day, although it took some effort to find them! We then were asked to brainstorm ideas for the up-and-coming Underage Festival where UNICEF UK will be having a stall trying to encourage more young people to join Tagd and sign the petition for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We were also asked for any feedback on Tagd. Honestly, this was quite a scary and challenging task, but it felt really good that our input was valued and, even as young people, our ideas were useful. Another exciting job on Tuesday was writing an article for Tagd about the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan.

Wednesday was mostly spent helping out Jazmin, who works on climate change. We searched the web to compile a list of blogs all about the environment, for UNICEF UK’s use in the future.

We’ve been working so hard this week that we kind of ran them out of things for us to do on Thursday morning. We tried to show some initiative by posting the MDG campaign, and link to the petition on Facebook so that our friends could get involved. You should do the same – it really makes a difference!! Our day soon livened up though, with a meeting all about UNICEF’s work in Yemen. It was fascinating to find out about the extent of the problems faced in our world, and the way UNICEF works tirelessly to solve them. The rest of the afternoon we worked again on the climate change campaign by assessing the Tagd campaign and resources, doing some more data work for the Robin Hood Tax and writing this!

We can’t believe that our time here is ending now! It’s been such a brilliant experience - getting such an insight into the work of UNICEF UK; feeling useful; and generally being motivated to support UNICEF’s campaigns and efforts more in the future, as we’ve seen how much hard work goes into them and the genuine effect they have.

If you would like to do work experience at UNICEF UK then check out these work experience pages on the UNICEF website.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

More from Vienna


Hiya again, it's Eliis catching up on the Pre-Conference. Each day has been pretty full on with information and sessions, starting every morning with an overview of what to expect.

Our first day seemed to go on for ages, but following this each day got easier and became routine. I tried to attend the most relevant sessions for me and for the projects I’m involved in. I only wish I could have made all of them, but there were too many sessions, so I had to make a choice! Here are a few I found were particularly inspiring or just enjoyable;

Vienna is just beautiful and has many old style features. I’ve had very few chances to really explore the city, but my adventures to restaurants have been wonderful. Every building opens up with a surprise out the back, most commonly magnificent gardens.

At the moment it’s just Carly and I preparing information and notes for the main conference. We can’t wait to get involved, things can only get better.

Blog to you all soon, remember “Now Make It Happen”

News from Vienna


Hi Guys,
The Youth Pre-Conference has been incredible! Over 200 people from 95 countries, the energy and enthusiasm has been relentless, as is the heat! It has been a great opportunity to network with so many passionate and motivated young people, with fresh ideas and initiatives.
So, what is the Vienna Youth Force? VYF aims to build youth leadership for a sustainable response to HIV and AIDS. The Pre-Conference provided a global platform for international, regional and local youth organisations concerned with promoting sexual reproduction and health rights and HIV and AIDS. These groups prepared activities and advocacy campaigns for us (the youth participants) to attend with the ultimate goal of empowering us to advocate for the Millennium Development Goals and Universal Access to HIV medicines.
Each day has been jam packed with 5 sessions running at any one time – this proved difficult when you’re as indecisive as me! I tried to focus on sessions covering the following:

  • Sexuality Education for HIV Prevention
  • Models for Youth Leadership
  • Understanding the Advocacy process
  • Peer Education Programmes
Needless to say my brain capacity has been tested! Eliis will talk you through a couple of the sessions she attended here.
We’ve also been interviewing numerous people on their experience of sex education in their country and access to youth friendly and appropriate services to gain a global vision of the current issues and find out more about what young people think and consider important.
The Pre-Conference ended on a high at our closing ceremony Dance the Ribbon. Listening to Michel Sidibe (Executive Director of UNAIDS) speak here was definitely a high point, supporting the youth movement and believing in our capacity to advocate for change. The event ended with an appropriate chant of our slogan “Now Make It Happen”.
Now for the XVIII International AIDS Conference, time to release the activist in me!
Now, Make It Happen.
Will write again soon

Friday, 16 July 2010

New Beginnings

DECC Youth Advisory Panel has kicked off and is ready to make a storm!

Luke and I, through our attendance of UNICEF Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen last December and our subsequent role as Climate Ambassadors, have been given the amazing opportunity to join the Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth Advisory Panel. The panel is made up of a group of young people, all representing their respective organisations - including Oxfam, People and Planet and the UK Youth Parliament. The role of the Youth Panel is to advise and play an active role in DECC, based on the thoughts and proposals of the youth community, whilst also relaying information from DECC out to the wider youth communities.

First set up by Ed Miliband and his team, the Youth Advisory Panel has now received the support of the new Government, in particular, Charles Hendry, a Minister of State for Energy who we met at this week's meeting. Excluding the fact that we were stuck in a stuffy dungeon of Whitehall, the meeting was really exciting and I cannot wait to get stuck into the work that we have planned for the next few months.

DECC have been busy developing a '2050 Pathways Calculator', which is a tool for calculating what needs to be done on both the demand and supply side of energy in order to reach the 80% greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050. The idea of the calculator is to develop 'energy pathways' that the UK economy could take; highlighting the choices we will have to make in the next few years.

Hopefully, the calculator will make all the statistics and targets surrounding climate change more understandable and give people a picture of what a low carbon economy will look like - both the benefits and sacrifices that we will have to make. The Youth Panel will be the first group to use the calculator and we are to compile an 'energy pathway to 2050' report, which will be published just before COP16 in Cancun, Mexico this December.

In the next few months we will be taking a number of site visits to relevant and important energy suppliers and energy plants where we can interview the workers and members of the local community. We will be trying to find out how viable each 'pathway' is, and also how it will affect our lives and the values that people hold. By posting regular video and written blogs, we hope young people (and not just the eco-warriors!) will follow our progress and participate in this massive public debate which will shape our future.

In my opinion, the DECC Youth Advisory Panel marks a huge step in decision-making history. For the first time, young people will have a recognised platform to voice their ideas, opinions and concerns. And it's about time too! It is our generation who will have to face the consequences of climate change and enforce the decisions that are made today, so we should shout out, be loud and get heard!

Follow our progress at www.youthpanel.blogspot.com.

Katie x

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

AIDS 2010




Hi all, my name is Carly (the one on the right) and I’m a student Nurse from University of Manchester! I arrived in Vienna last night with Eliis, another young person selected for this opportunity, to attend the XVIII International AIDS conference.

I found out about this opportunity through the Student Stop AIDS Society and was lucky enough to be selected by UNICEF UK and Restless Development to attend the Youth pre-conference, the AIDS 2010 conference and a three-day advocacy training organised by Restless Development.

Inspired by a year volunteering in an East African orphanage, I applied wanting to do more to empower young people to campaign for universal access to sufficient education, treatment and care.

I believe advocacy is fundamental for change and I’m passionate about peer educating. Attending the AIDS conference in Vienna will provide knowledge, resources and networking opportunity for us to bring back to the UK to facilitate raising awareness.

This year is 10 years since world leaders made eight promises to create a fairer world. These promises, called the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs as you will probably see them called in the papers, range from eradicating poverty and hunger to halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation. One the MDGs, number 6, focuses specifically on HIV and AIDS, so I hope to find out more about the progress achieved so far at the conference.

Whilst at the conference Eliis and I will try to keep you updated of our time in Vienna, so keep an eye on this blog!



Hello, I’m Eliis (the one on the left) and I work in a sexual health clinic in Newham (East London) as a peer educator, and with the Terence Higgins Trust.

I’ve done a lot of youth work in the past and taken part in many projects on young people’s sexual health awareness and discrimination. I personally feel very close to any project to do with these issues and feel very privileged to be attending the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna!

I’ve also been involved in World AIDS Day events in Newham and working on anti-homophobia campaigns has taken me around Europe.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Young people discover Tagd at Valley Comprehensive School

Ruby has been volunteering for UNICEF UK for a few years, here she talks about a project she coordinated with students from a school in Worksop





At Valley Comprehensive School in Worksop a group of year 10 students completed a UNICEF UK project as part of their Diploma in Health, Society and Development.

The students worked hard to raise awareness of issues affecting the world’s children and to spread the word about Tagd, UNICEF UK’s youth website. As part of their diploma the students researched, planned and carried out some small events and the results have been fantastic.

Stephen Smith, the class teacher, said “the opportunity has been brilliant for the students; it’s been a chance for them to become truly engaged in their work and passionate about their studies whilst supporting a fantastic charity”. Not only has their work raised their awareness of UNICEF and issues that affect child rights all over the world, but it has raised awareness across the whole school.

Whilst keeping a video diary to record all their exciting work, the students planned a ‘Tagd Design’ competition and a Tagd outreach session. With the help of loads of stickers and flyers the outreach session really raised the profile of UNICEF with students and made it the top talking point in Valley School! Tagd was also a topic of discussion and thanks to the creative and imaginative minds of the school’s students some fantastic Tags were designed in the competition.
To handle Tagd’s new-found popularity in Valley School, the students held a Signing Up Session, where they set up a classroom and had their laptops ready and prepared to sign people up to Tagd - what a fantastic idea!

But the students didn’t want their work to be only about the fun and games of stickers and competitions; they wanted to make sure that the serious message of UNICEF’s work was heard loud and clear. To this end, they did two presentations for other classes about HIV and clean water which taught other students about the adversities faced by other children and young people across the world, the work UNICEF does to help these children and how the students can be involved through Tagd.

I have been volunteering for UNICEF UK for a few years and coordinated the group’s work. It was a great experience and I hope that this example inspires other students to initiate projects in their own schools and communities - it’s been a brilliant display of hard work, altruism and commitment”.

On another note, I have also set up a UNICEF fundraising group in Sheffield which I am keen for students to be involved with- please visit the groups Facebook page or email us at bethechange10@yahoo.co.uk.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

What the parties say about education


The Times last week showed pictures of Brown, Cameron and Clegg with children- whilst they spend plenty of time having their pictures taken with children, they seem to spend little time discussing policy which will directly effect children and young people. Talk of proportional representation, coalition governments and gossip about the party leaders has tended to dominate the headlines, leaving little space for the policies we want to hear about. So I’ve taken to the three main party’s websites to see what they’ve got to say about education…

I've noticed across the three main party's manifestos there are promises to restore discipline in schools,increase apprenticeships, raise standards, the list goes on. Whilst this all sounds grand, and I’m not questioning that need for these policies, there's a disappointing absence of any mention of children enjoying school. These points all centre on money and targets. My main concern as I've read through the manifestos is the seemingly inescapable focus on quantitative education, turning our children into figures, planning our countries future on numbers, not quality of life. But that's a discussion for another day!

Besides this, my primary interest was in the pledge made by the Liberal Democrats to provide free university eduction.....To make my mind up about how I feel about free university education I've decided to make a pro and con list- simple.

Pros

  • create a better educated country with better business prospects
  • increase the UK's reputation overseas as an educated nation
  • free students from financial worries
  • allow all people to feel financially able to pursue the career they wish creating a greater equality and decreasing the gap between rich and poor
  • less pressure on parents to be able to financially support their children through university
Cons

  • devaluing the degree
  • people aiming for jobs that now need degrees will soon require an MA
  • individuals who don't necessarily want to stay in education will do so to pass time
  • there will have to be cuts in other budget areas to cover the cost
  • it reinforces the concept that an academic classroom education is required to get a good job and negates the efforts made to give students alternative options to academia
Well, the pros and cons list didn't work too well as I came out with an equal number. Damn. So I've done some more thinking.

It's a wonderful idea in principle, but my main concern is that it would devalue degree standard education even further. Shouldn’t young people be willing to make an investment in their own future by taking the (available to all) student loan option? The student loan, if nothing else, encourages graduates to aim for higher jobs, whereas a free university education would not provide graduates with an incentive to find higher paid jobs, but it would force all those who are motivated to attain high levels of education and high skilled careers to continue into post graduate education.

I think that some of the points on my pros list aren't necessarily as positive as they initially seem; parents saving for their children, young people understanding finances and being willing to make a financial investment in their own life- surely these are positive things in many respects.
Which leads me to conclude that like so many other educational policies, free university education has also been driven by finance and targets rather than choice and quality of life for young people in the UK.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


“If it is about style and PR, count me out.” In his opening speech of the second of the Prime Ministerial debates, Gordon Brown hits the nail on the head. He alludes to a society which expects nothing less than airbrushed perfection. The media is dominated by slick reality TV, where contestants are revamped into clones of some perceived ideal. But Brown insists this election campaign is not about reality TV. It’s about reality. He implores us to lay aside those deeply instilled expectations we may have for contestants vying for our vote – whitened teeth, tanned skin, extended hair – and to judge on substance, not appearance. The cheek.

But he’s right, isn’t he? We are so conditioned to the reality TV format that we do genuinely seem to be confusing it with the seriousness of the debates. The surge in popularity for Clegg mirrors SuBo’s rise to popularity. Support for the underdog: this really is reality TV politics. Just like John Sergeant’s incredible run on Strictly Come Dancing, or Jedward’s unprecedented success in a supposed ‘singing’ competition, or the Rage Against The Machine Christmas number 1 - once again we are resisting any apparent arrogance in the contestants as well as demonstrating a preference for voting against the perceived authority of the Cowell-like moguls.

Had SuBo been a little more fashionably and socially aware, I dare say she would not have been such a success story. I am no music expert, but her voice can hardly be described as exquisite. And this is my point. It was not her voice – for which she is reputed – which propelled her to fame, but the patronising sympathy of a nation who, out of shame and embarrassment at its prejudice, swept from condescendingly sniggering at her to sycophantically buying her record.

Similarly, were Brown and Cameron a little more persuasive and likeable, it’s hard to believe Clegg would be so popular. Clegg, like SuBo and Jedward and Sergeant, all challenge the format, be it of reality TV or of politics, which is becoming stale, boring and repetitive. But in all cases, their success is not a testament to their individual talent or genius, but the result of an audience or electorate which is eager for a bit of intrigue and excitement.

I look forward to seeing if substance really does hold out over the appearance of something new and exciting.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Local Actions

It seems like time I kept everyone in touch with what I have been up to locally. Don’t Bake the Planet hasn’t been forgotten and as part of Earth day I let people know what I was up to and I am really keen to have more than a pretty but meaningless Facebook group, but I am only going to be able to focus on this after my exams.
However, so far I have let people know all about Copenhagen and how and why Climate Change threatens children’s rights- a crucial link to make- I have found it really rewarding going into schools, I got some of the cutest thank you letters ever! (left). I also created a display that I put up in church that let anyone everyone at church know about my experiences in Copenhagen. My cake sale and presentations of Earth day were a great success, even if more low key than I originally intended but GCSE revision has been a bit of pain (… you know how it is !).


For me, I hope this summer can be the time for real change in my local community as I will have the time to make a greater difference. I have been so inspired by my fellow CCF (Children’s Climate Forum) delegates, everytime I receive an e-mail from one of the other Copenhagen 4 or someone from the CAP (Climate Ambassador Programme) I feel inspired and enthused. From the rest of the Copenhagen 4, Katie’s work with the CAP Project and as a Link is brilliant- no one works harder, Luke with all his great work with the US delegation and his inspiring PHOTOsyntheseis project and Graeme with the Scottish youth parliament.
Lots of young people really care and really work hard to show that they do and if we all do small things, be it an assembly in school or a meeting with a local group, real change can become a reality. I only strive to make as much of a difference in my community as some of the truly remarkable people I was fortunate enough to meet through my part as one of the Copenhagen 4.
Cressie
XXX

Friday, 23 April 2010

The issues we care about

By Luke, Tagd climate ambassador

In the run-up to the general election, the voices of young people are drowned out in the storm surrounding the contest to occupy No. 10 as many of us (myself included) will not be old enough to vote on May 6th – more about this later!

The issue that most concerns me is the current global environmental crisis. Attending UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Forum in Copenhagen in December and having the opportunity to get involved with the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s youth advisory board has impressed upon me the need for leadership on climate change at the level of governments.

The meeting of world leaders in Copenhagen at the end of last year provided a woefully inadequate mandate for international action, and the world is looking forward to more positive outcomes at a similar conference in Mexico at the end of 2010. However, there is a mountain to be climbed before this can be achieved, and the importance of countries like the UK in this process should not be underestimated.

We have, in recent decades, been at the forefront of trying new renewable energy technologies and creating tough national climate legislation to reduce emissions. We are one of the leading nations on the issue of climate change within the EU, a group of countries that plays a vital role in global negotiations by mediating the often heated debates between poorer and richer countries.

So apart from continuing the legacy of striving to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, a new government must also increase the part that the UK plays in pushing for a fair, ambitious and binding deal in Mexico at the end of this year. Scientists predict catastrophe if we can’t start to reduce global emissions by the end of this decade, so the potential effect that a new government, sitting in power for at least half of that decade, could have on this problem is huge. Children around the world are already bearing the brunt of global warming: a government that is weak on climate change is a government that is blind to the needs of our present and future wellbeing.

Secondly, whoever is in charge after May 6th must recognise the economic opportunities that come with reducing our emissions, and must fully embrace and support the flourishing of a low-carbon economy. As we emerge from economic turmoil, thousands of young people are finding themselves without the jobs they desire or have trained for. The government must work tirelessly to ensure that all young people are able to find employment and that they are given the suitable training to maximise their job prospects. Supporting a low-carbon economy provides a perfect way to do this: by showing teenagers at an early stage the opportunities that exist already or will exist in a few years, from cavity wall insulators to wind turbine engineers, a government can improve the hopes of loads of young people and also ease the transition that is needed to meet our emissions targets.

Obviously these aren’t the only important issues that face our country today. However, these are the ones that I care about most, and I fear that they risk being lost in the clamour for political power.

Finally, in the last couple of months I’ve realised that there is something else that annoys me greatly: the voting age! I’ll be 18 on June 29th, and I find it insulting and absurd that I and so many of my peers, whilst being able to join the armed forces and face death for our country, whilst being eligible to pay taxes, and whilst facing the nightmare of possible unemployment, are not considered competent to choose a political party who will send us to war, take our money or provide us with jobs. A general election affords us an opportunity to do something about this absurd situation – to lower the voting age, so that more young people get engaged with politics and have our voices heard on the issues we care about.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Launch of Climate Ambassador Programme!





After the Children's Climate Forum it was decided that all the delegates would become global Climate Ambassadors when they returned home. The programme is designed to create a network of young climate activists that empowers and trains young people to engage their local communities in the climate debate.


The role of the Climate Ambassador is to:

  • Engage and inform their communities about climate change
  • Voice and represent the concerns of young people
  • Share ideas and inspire other young people via the Unite for Climate Website

Of the 160 young people who attended the Forum, 12 'Links' were selected to act as the co-ordinators of the Climate Ambassador Programme (CAP). My role is to liaise between UNICEF and the board of Links, which will consist of the following areas of interest:

  • Communications - produces a monthly newsletter for the Climate Ambassadors, along with an already up and running blog.
  • Action planners - plan actions that all Climate Ambassadors can take part in, plus providing support for members who are already doing projects in their own communities.
  • Advocacy - design advocacy programmes and campaigns that CAP members can promote
  • Research - provide news and information of what is happening in the ever-changing world of climate change.

What is so great about the Climate Ambassador Programme is that the energy, ideas and passion that were established in Copenhagen can be built upon over the next year. Since the Forum, I have been in contact with some of the other Climate Ambassadors and heard what they have been doing in their own communities. The Turkish delegation recently organised a survey about climate change, which 5,000 students took part in! A team of delegations have also been busy setting up a campaign called 'Go Green Haiti!' to rebuild Haiti after the terrible earthquake in January in a more sustainable way.

Climate change commitment tree at the Forum


The fact that young people in Haiti are still determined to raise awareness about the positive opportunities climate change can offer us after having lost everything is so inspirational and makes me want to fight even harder to help save such wonderful people and our beautiful planet!


Katie x

Monday, 29 March 2010

The power of young people

Katie has been busy volunteering in her local area.

Since I returned from Copenhagen, I have been sharing what I learnt at UNICEF's Children's Climate Forum with my local community and other young people. In Decemeber, a presentations evening was held at Worcester Volunteer Centre, where I have been volunteering for almost two years. The international environmental youth project in the centre, called SEED, also had exciting stories to tell as they had just returned from a trip to India where they learnt about sustainability out there. A fact that really surprised me was that in terms of wind power installed capacity, India is ranked fifth in the world.

In February, I was invited to speak at the National Trust's 'You, Me & The Climate' project's celebration event, which was held at one of their beautiful properties, Prior Park, in Bath. I am always really impressed by the National Trust's work with young people and the environment, but I guess they have to be given their organisation is already being severely impacted by climate change. For instance, over the last eight years, they have been forced to make over 400 separate insurance claims for flood or storm damage, worth over £3.2 million.

'Society cannot ignore climate change - its impacts are being felt
already and they will become much more widespread.' - Dame Fiona Reynold
DBE, Director General of the National Trust

Over the past few months, I have also been organising a high school eco-ambassadors event, which took place at Worcestershire's County Hall. Five local eco-schools attended, along with two youth volunteering groups from Worcester Volunteer Centre and some county councillors.

'Eco-Schools is an international award programme
that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to
help embed these principles into the heart of school life.'


The purpose of the event was to give the eco-schools the opportunity to hear about wider environmental volunteering opportunities whilst sharing what they are already doing within their schools. I also ran a climate change-related activity, called 'Rising Tide', which I too from Tagd's peer education pack. I wanted to communicate the fact that in the next 100 years, Atlantic sea levels are predicted to rise by up to 1m, threatening low-level countries all across the world, including the Maldives and Bangladesh.


Having a fun break, doing the Rising Tide activity


All my events received great feedback and I encourage you to hold some of your own about issues that are important to you. We need to make adults realise that young people have a passion, creativity and determination that can and should be used as a positive force for change in society.


Katie x

Child Friendly Communities is off to a flying start!


I’m Emma, one of the five Article 12 Advisers working on Child Friendly Communities, which is a new initiative by UNICEF UK to try and get children and young people’s rights embedded at the heart of UK society. It’s an award scheme for local authorities who can show that children’s rights are known about, respected and actively upheld. If they can prove this then they can call themselves a UNICEF certified ‘Child Friendly Community’.

The Article 12 Advisers are a group of young people from across the country helping to give a young person’s perspective on the project. UNICEF themselves are upholding children’s rights by hearing and respecting the views of young people. This means our right to have our views listened to, promised in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; is upheld within UNICEF itself. We also help UNICEF to make sure that what they’re doing will provide real benefits for children and young people.

So far we’ve been working on the assessment framework for Child Friendly Communities, which local authorities will have to fulfil. We have all been giving our perspective on it and looking at ways in which young people can be involved in the process. Personally I’ve been looking at how training in children’s rights, for staff who work with children and young people, will have an effect on our lives

On 16th February we had the first meeting of the advisory committee for Child Friendly Communities. This was a meeting of groups, charities and other organisations who work on children’s rights or might have an interest in the project. We broke into small groups and assessed different aspects of the framework.

From my point of view it was simultaneously terrifying and very exciting and interesting. On the one hand, having to talk to this group of people who work in children’s rights, who clearly will know more than me, was very intimidating, but on the other hand to get their perspective on the project was fantastic and I know I learnt a lot. It was great to get feedback on the framework and I felt the meeting was very successful.

So the work now goes on, and we’ll keep you updated on what we’re doing.


Monday, 15 March 2010

The proof is in the pudding!

Katie takes part in the second DECC Youth Advisory Panel pilot session.

DECC's commitment to young people and our futures was truly established for me a week ago, as I was invited to attend the second pilot session for the Youth Advisory Panel. The fact that DECC are willing to give up almost an entire day to listen to what young people have to say and assure us that the Youth Advisory Panel is a priority for the current Government really fills me with hope.

The day kicked off bright and early, with a lengthy discussion about the purpose of the panel, how the panel members would be selected, the role of individual members and how DECC can support us, and these ideas were then presented to Ed Miliband. Whilst the details are still to be confirmed, here are the key messages that I took away from the day:

The DECC Youth Panel represents the youth voice to DECC, particularly in ensuring the long term impacts of policy are sound, safe and agreed to by the future generation. It aims to:

  • Hold DECC accountable to youth stakeholders
  • Advise on how to work with and engage young people
  • Where appropriate, and where agreed by the youth panel, to proactively engage with wider youth audiences

In the afternoon we discussed DECC's Consultation on Skills for the Low Carbon Economy, which is looking at the skills needed to meet the UK's targets for 2020 (reduction of 34% in greenhouse gas emissions) and for 2050 (reduction in at least 80% in greenhouse gas emissions). Key areas of the economy that were identified include:

  • Decarbonising power
  • Decarbonising transport
  • Decarbonising buildings, construction
  • Decarbonising supply chains across the entire economy
  • Climate change adaptation

Our discussion mainly focused on the need to encourage more young people to choose a low-carbon career. We learnt from David Kidney that there will be up to 70,000 jobs available in the wind industry alone, and therefore teachers and career advisors have a key role to play in getting this sort of information across and telling young people that there is a long-term, sustainable and worthwhile career in helping Britain's transition into a low carbon economy.

The DECC Youth Panel will not meet again until after the General Election, providing that the party that wins still gives the panel a thumbs up. But until then, we're all busy drafting reports from the meeting and making the most of our newly established connections with young climate leaders from across the country!

Katie x

Friday, 12 March 2010

David Kidney: Looking Good



Meeting with David Kidney was a great opportunity for us, the Copenhagen 4, to tell The Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change about our experiences in Copenhagen. Incidentally, is was also a marvellous opportunity to see inside the Houses of Parliament, in the ‘canteen’ – if I can call it that with oak panelling and the iconic green leather of the House of Commons, anyway, let’s just say it was a far cry from my school canteen! our meeting was informal but informative. I left the meeting feeling both positive and reassured that out government really does want to listen to us. It was also great to know that Kidney had read the manifesto from the Children’s Climate Forum – ‘What’s up COP?’ and agreed with all that was outlined, saying it was ‘fantastic’ how we had looked at adaptation as well as mitigation.
From our meeting we were hoping to share all that we had gained from the forum, especially how all the delegates came together with the goal of trying to safeguard the planet for future generations- not out of self-interest. Kidney was pleased by this and said how he felt that politicians had a thing or two to learn from us- something that Kidney assured us he would feed back to Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.



The main points of discussion from our meeting were:

  • The role of civil society, maintaining the momentum built in the run up to COP15, ensuring Mexico delivers all that was promised of Copenhagen.
  • The role of young people in the Climate Debate and the example of global co-operation they set at the Children’s Climate Forum in Copenhagen.
  • The DECC, Department of Energy and Climate Change Youth Panel; Luke, Katie and Kidney came straight from sitting on the panel to the meeting. The plan being to get a panel set up and cemented before the general election.
  • The Robin Hood Tax (click to support)- this was something Kidney supported, his only concern being that the funds gathered would be allocated to too many projects, one of these being Climate Change.
  • Climate scepticism, Kidney reassured us that while there will always be criticism the government is trying to promote greater transparency from scientific bodies to help reassure the public that climate change is a very real danger that is imperative we deal with.

    Overall, Kidney’s message was that of a positive one and that by the time we come to Mexico the World should be in a much stronger place to reach a legally binding consensus. Additionally, ever since December more and more countries have been signing up to the Copenhagen Accord- showing political willingness and progress.

    The message is: We must continue to lobby, campaign and overcome climate change scepticism but things are starting to look up. We must keeping going. We must keep believing.

'Make the change- show that you care'.

Cressie
XXX

Monday, 22 February 2010

UNICEF HQ through the eyes of an Article 12 Advisor

I’m Evie and recently was appointed an Article 12 Advisor to UNICEF UK’s Child Friendly Communities initiative. Along with 5 other people from Britain, I will be working with UNICEF in 2010 to implement the initiative among British towns and promote a ‘child-friendly’ approach in all communities. Recently, I went to New York City with my family and was lucky enough to visit the headquarters of UNICEF on the last day of my visit.

I spent most of my visit with Cristina Gallegos, who runs the UNICEF Voices of Youth website, and she showed me around the building. The first thing that struck me was the size of the building and the amount of people who worked there – it’s incredible how many people work there, and how much all of these people genuinely care about children is a really positive thing to remember.

The Voices of Youth website is a great forum for young people to discuss issues that relate to them and that they care about – these range from AIDS awareness and the Junior 8 summit to children’s rights and media coverage, along with hundreds of other topics. All the conversations are logged and recorded, as a way of integrating young people’s views into projects. For example, a document was published called A World Fit for Us, which used stories and comments from the VOY forums to explore the impact of the UN Special Session on Children in 2002. The VOY site also carries news items and themes to inform and initiate discussions among the thousands of young people who use it.

I really enjoyed my visit, and extend my sincerest thanks to Cristina Gallegos for showing me around and to Matthew King for helping us to organize the visit. I’d love to return in the future!

Evie xo

Follow the Article 12 Advisors and Child Friendly Communities on Facebook.

Friday, 19 February 2010

PHOTOsynthesis: US Climate Change Legislation, One Picture at a Time

The main picture for the campaign. It does make me look a bit like God, cradling the world in my hand... perhaps a bit arrogant!

PHOTOsynthesis is a campaign I’ve made with a friend from the US delegation to the Children’s Climate Forum, Becca. In the US, a bill that will reduce America’s emissions is trying to make its way through Congress. The US is one of the biggest emitters in the world, so urgent action is required to reduce its impact on the environment.

The idea of the PHOTOsynthesis campaign is to unite people around the world in expressing their wish for a strong climate bill in the US this year. There is a very real danger that it won’t even be debated in the Senate this year, let alone be passed as a strong first step on the road to decarbonisation.

All too often, countries act in response to climate change in terms of their own national interests. It is the aim of this campaign to give people the world over a voice in the US political system, so that we can perhaps remind one US senator that his or her vote is about more than just their citizens, but that this bill has far-reaching consequences for children and communities around the world.

At the moment, the campaign is based upon facebook (http://photopetition.notlong.com), which gives us a broad reach and should allow us to access large numbers of people across the world. The name ‘PHOTOsynthesis’ comes from the idea of bringing people together and using their photos as a more meaningful and emotive petition which we can then use in the US to lobby senators and decision-makers. On facebook, therefore, we are collecting all the ‘profile pictures’ of all the members of our group. The photos needn’t be climate-specific – they are just intended to give each and every signatory of our petition a unique and individual mark upon the campaign. They will then be collated into a (hopefully!) massive ‘photo petition’, a collage or a video which we can then spread around the world and send to loads of senators in the US.

File:Capitol Building Full View.jpg

Taking the fight to the US Senate

So the first stage is to gather as many members as possible – so join up and get loads of your friends to join too! Once we’ve shown that we’re serious with a large number of members, we will then (as we are already beginning to do) raise the profile of the group, and try to attract as much attention as possible on the campaign. We are also working on bringing it off facebook and giving it a dedicated web page - so look out for more news of it on Tagd! Once we have a date for a Senate debate, we’ll then mobilise our friends in the US to push it to their senators and their contacts to try to remind America that climate change is a global phenomenon, and therefore they have a responsibility to the global community to limit their impact upon it!

Thanks for reading and JOIN UP AND INVITE!!!

Luke

Sunday, 14 February 2010

DECC Youth Panel

One of the discussions with Ed Miliband at the DECC Youth Panel pilot

On Tuesday 9th February, I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in something which young people around the UK had been looking forward to for some time. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has finally agreed to set up a ‘Youth Advisory Panel’, and, as one of the ‘Copenhagen 4’, I was given the opportunity to take part in a pilot session for this Panel.

Youth involvement in the climate issue is important for two reasons. Firstly, it is the young people around the world who are being hit hardest by climate change already – when drought decimates a family’s crop, it is the children who are forced to work the land harder; when rivers run dry it is young women and girls who are forced to walk ever further in search of water, and when disaster strikes the child victims are all too numerous.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the decisions taken now will affect the world which we, as young people, inherit. DECC is launching a ‘Roadmap to 2050’ report this Spring, which sets out how the UK is going to achieve its 80% reduction in emissions by mid-century. Therefore they were keen to hear what we thought about how the UK should use its energy by mid-century.

At the meeting, we had a brief introduction about DECC’s plans, and then got into small groups to discuss what we wanted the world of 2050 to look like. There were about 15 young people between the ages of 16-25 from loads of different organisations, and it was great getting to know them all – it’s amazing just how many different groups are getting involved with youth climate activism! The best part of the day was when Ed Miliband walked in and we got to have a question and answer session with him: getting to miss a day of school for the meeting was fantastic, but meeting Ed was even better!





Ed with some even younger climate activists! (Image courtesy of DECC)

He was really friendly and open, and it was great to have his support: I think his presence was testament to his and his department’s commitment to the idea of having our input on DECC policy. There was, of course, a concern about the stability of the future of this Youth Panel, given the looming General Election. Who knows who will be sitting in Ed’s chair in a few months’ time, and who knows what they’ll think of our involvement? We’ll just have to wait and see…

We are now feeding back to them about the process and how we think it went. They seem very keen to continue the Panel and to make it as large a success as possible, which is really great news for all young people in the UK and around the world.

Keep reading this blog for updates on what happens next with the Youth Advisory Panel and for more about what the 'Copenhagen 4' are doing...

Thanks!

Luke