More than 300 pupils from schools across Manchester gathered for a special summit to have their concerns heard and develop new ideas for action on the issue of climate change.
The Young People’s Climate Change Action Summit, at the Manchester Central Convention Complex, was the second event of its kind to be held in the city, giving pupils aged from 9 - 14 the chance to explore what they can do to help the city to meet its ambitious, science-based target to become zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.
At the event, held on Friday 17 January, young people expressed their views on how climate change should be tackled, explored its causes and challenged a panel of local civic leaders on the actions that they are taking to ensure that the city meets its ambitious zero-carbon target.
Pupils attended workshops hosted by experts in their field, exploring what steps they can take at home and in school to reduce the carbon impact of energy consumption, transport choices and food and goods consumption. All schools in the city were invited to send a group of pupils to represent them at the event.
Dean Trust Ardwick is one of three schools whose pupils presented to the summit to explain the actions they have been taking to tackle climate change and plastic pollution. The school was named national "Best School" in the Waste category of 2019’s Eco-Schools Awards, managed by Keep Britain Tidy. From 2020, Dean Trust Ardwick will be banning plastic bottles from their school, with each pupil being issued with their own reusable water bottle.
Angela Mozumber (Year 9) said: “I believe that climate change is an issue ignored by far too many people and being on the Eco Committee makes me feel there is still hope to make more people aware of the issue. It makes me feel happy that we are making positive impacts, but we still have a lot to do.”
Inmal Ishtiaq (also Year 9) said: “Climate change is known as a huge issue globally, so me being part of the eco committee makes me feel proud. We are role-modelling and trying to save the earth for the community and humanity. We have been successful at bringing awareness to the school about recycling and talking about climate change.”
The event was recorded by young people who are taking part in a project run by Groundwork, which is enabling them to gain new skills in journalism, get their voices heard and showcase their film created on the day.
Rebecca Hulme, 12, from Gorton, said: "I am so excited to be reporting on such a big event. I can't quite believe I've been chosen to take part. This is the opportunity to start off my journey to change the world!"
The first Manchester Young People’s Climate Change Action summit was held in July 2019, during the same week that Manchester City Council formally declared a ‘climate emergency’.
The motion declared that climate change is a serious risk to Manchester’s future and committed the council to embedding the issue as an integral part of its decision-making - making sure that all key decisions are taken with the city’s target of becoming zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest in mind.
The council, which has reduced its own carbon emissions by almost 50 per cent since 2010, is working to create a new Zero Carbon Action Plan, due to be submitted for approval by the council’s Executive in March. The plan, for 2020-25, will set out ways in which the council can reduce its carbon emissions even further and will also capture the actions which schools are taking on climate change. The council’s plan will be published alongside action plans from other key organisations who have joined the Manchester Climate Change Partnership. In total, more than 60 organisations, accounting for around 20 per cent of the city’s overall carbon emissions, have joined the Partnership to date.
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, attended the event and answered questions from the young people.
Cllr Rahman said: “Following the success of our city’s first climate change action summit for young people last summer, we were keen to hold another event, to allow hundreds more local young people to explore how they can play their part in responding to the climate crisis, both through their personal actions and through working together and campaigning to make the world a better place.
“The passionate response of Manchester’s young people to what is the defining global issue of our time has not gone away since last summer, when a climate emergency was formally declared in Manchester - and nor should it. That means that we as civic leaders can expect to be held to account and ready to explain to our young people what we are doing to meet the challenge of making Manchester a zero-carbon city.”
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, who also attended, said: “As a council, we have reduced our carbon emissions by almost 50 per cent since 2010 and are continuing to forge ahead, adopting an ambitious, science-based target for the city to be zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.
“For Manchester to meet its goal, everyone in the city will need to play their part. Our young people have been and will continue to be a strong voice for radical change, so this summit was an important opportunity both to listen to them and to give them the opportunity to develop their ideas further.”