Ninety young people and their teachers from thirty Cumbrian schools came together in April for the county’s first youth summit on climate change.
Organised by the head teacher from Robert Ferguson School in Carlisle, it was a moving and uplifting event that gave young people a chance to voice their concerns about climate change and other environmental issues.
CAfS chief executive Hazel Graham went along to take part in a question panel and to listen to young people’s views and the actions they want to see.
“It’s so obvious that young people have a good grasp of the science behind climate change,” Hazel said. “Children expressed fear, anger and frustration at the summit and set out some clear ideas for the action they want to see. They feel they are being let down by leaders and they have a strong desire to meet with people in power and share views with them.”
Students from each of the schools gave a short presentation. They flagged their main environmental concerns: the impact of climate change, plastic waste, deforestation, loss of habitat, approval for a new coal mine in Cumbria and pollution.
Here are just a few of the students’ comments that sum up the feelings they expressed:
“We live in an amazing world, full of amazing animals, beautiful blue oceans, interesting towns and cities, beautiful woods and forests. Will it still be beautiful when we are older? We can save our world but we all need to do something.”
“Lack of action on climate change is making us unsafe. If an adult does something that makes you feel unsafe, what do you do? Tell a trusted adult. Call for help. We all need to shout as loud as we can for help.”
“There is too much time dwelling on differences. The planet is what unites us all. Let’s save our world.”
“It’s scary to think that our future generations will never see the world as it is now. Speak up children. We hope to inspire people today to reduce pollution.”
“Our biggest concern is that we destroy other habitats. Our precious world is dying in front of our eyes. It is up to us to protect it.”
The momentum from the summit looks set to continue. Two students from Cockermouth who attended the summit have now set up a new climate change network for young people from across Cumbria. Read more >
Nationally and internationally, youth action continues this month, with the next youth strike for climate taking place on 24 May.