This week young people across the West of England discussed carbon-emission cutting solutions with experts, before quizzing local politicians on their Climate Action strategies. During the three day Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), 11-13 October 2021, discussion ranged from trams in city centres, to jobs of the future. But a key theme, of how to educate the public and get everyone onboard, emerged as a major concern.
“How can we solve a problem if we don’t know what the problem is?” said TJ, a Year 10 student from Orchard School, Bristol, frustrated about the lack of public dissemination about the Climate Action Plans for achieving Net Zero 2030. “It’s the same thing as my teacher giving me homework and a deadline, and not telling me what the homework is. The nation doesn’t know what to do.”
Politicians get quizzed
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees addressed the young people on his Climate Action Plan on 11 October, followed by Councillor Toby Savage from South Gloucestershire Council and Councillor Sarah Warren from Bath & North East Somerset Council on 12 October.
Finally, West of England Mayor, Dan Norris had his turn to face young people from Orchard School, Bristol, face-to-face at We The Curious on 13 October.
“How do you plan on causing the public to actually change their habits – do you think it will succeed?” asked Eloise, addressing the major talking point expressed during the summit.
Mr Norris agreed that to make changes in emissions, everyone has to work together and spread the word about the impact our habits are having on the planet, and that his job was to make the “best” low carbon options easier for the public to take hold of. Like cheaper, faster buses.
Dan Norris said: “When it comes to the climate emergency, young people are well ahead of politicians. They understand the need for urgent action. They are clear-thinking and straight-talking. And they have creative ideas about how we can move quickly to meet our ambitious net zero targets.
“Our region is home to so much innovative technology, with brilliant scientists, researchers and engineers working to meet the urgent challenges we all face.
“As they move into further study and into employment these young people will become valued additions to our huge West of England pool of talent, helping shape solutions.”
Discussions from the summit will be communicated to policymakers in the West of England, and the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire educational team at UWE Bristol, supported by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), will showcase outcomes to international audiences at COP26 in November.
We’ll be reporting more on the outcomes from YEESS in the coming weeks and legacy materials will also be available on the DETI Inspire resource hub, but for now, you can find all Q&As with politicians and expert videos on the DETI Inspire YouTube channel. If you only want to watch one, here’s our favourite video used to inspire young people in Climate Action: