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...