International Climate Champions
19 May 2009
International Climate Champions, Jessica Smith and Emily Wolfson both14, visited China a few weeks ago as part of the British Council’sglobal climate change project.
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International Climate Champions, Jessica Smith and Emily Wolfson both 14, visited China a few weeks ago as part of the British Council’s global climate change project. The programme supports young people who are committed to action on climate change to develop and implement projects within their local communities that raise awareness of climate change, limit the impact of climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. Champions work with other young people around the globe to share and develop their ideas and the British Council enables them to share their voices with leaders and decision makers.
Jessica said: ‘Many of the projects that Emily and I visited proved incredibly motivational. They enthused an eagerness within me to build on the knowledge learnt from these experiences and to expand and better my own projects back home. After meeting the Beijing, Guangzho Youth Ambassadors (YA’s) and communicating via videoconference with the Hong Kong YAs, a realisation of the large differences in the circumstances that we face then surfaced. However, this did not seem to matter since we were united by a passion, knowledge and determination for the environment. It was wonderful to hear other perspectives and experiences and it gave me a fresh outlook on all the projects I am involved in.
One of the first projects I visited was Green Your School’ which has involved over 100,000 pupils since 2007. After giving a lecture to 100 students, I realised what the project had achieved. It allowed students throughout China to engage in a scheme of imaginative solutions to help their schools, their communities and themselves.
Another visit was to a rural village. The trip allowed us to gain a new perspective of China and the circumstances under which it must combat Climate Change. I strongly feel that many people view China as a country of high industrialization and huge ever-expanding cities. However, the trip allowed us to see the underdeveloped side of China too.
Speaking to Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, at a ‘Climate Cool’ event was a great honour and privilege. After guiding the minister around the event, he signed his environmental pledge, which was to implement strong targets at the Climate conference in Copenhagen this December. This was a truly positive step, which left me with a great feeling of hope. Although the government should be congratulated for its efforts so far, I do feel that there is still a long way to go and that we still need to take the threat as seriously as ever, if not more so.
My views of China have altered an incredible amount since the trip. To my utter surprise the world’s second largest carbon emitter has inspired me. I believe that many in Britain find it easier to push the blame rather than take responsibility for their actions. Contrary to common perceptions, China seems to be taking a great deal of action. They have agreed that global emissions have to be cut by 60 per cent by 2050 and that they must take action. Maybe it is time for us all to follow in China’s green footsteps.’
‘The whole trip was a learning experience and I gained so much knowledge on what other Chinese champions are doing, ’ explained Emily. ‘All the projects they told me about seem almost impossible to achieve. For example, one of the groups generates their school’s energy completely from solar panels and another school turns off all its electricity at five pm! They have all aimed big and have most certainly achieved big’. I can only hope my end product is a slither of their brilliance.’
Emily’s project: ‘My entry for the climate champion competition is based on the idea of The Great Supermarket Debate’. The event will involve school pupils, farmers, celebrities and members of parliament. The MPs will be debating whose party is more eco-friendly. This means they will have to make the beneficial changes and there efforts prior to the debate will be discussed.’
Jessica’s project: ‘I have called my main initiative to increase awareness among my generation Best Foot Forward.’ I strongly feel that we are the generation that is going to be effected by Climate Change and that we need to understand the problems that we face now so that we can make informed decisions in the future. One of the many smaller projects incorporated in Best Foot Forward’ is the production of an information booklet called Theresa Green and Squeaky Clean.’ The leaflet, aimed at pre-school children, would provide them with facts and advice as they join the fun-loving Theresa Green’ and her mentor mouse Squeaky Clean’ on a journey to make a difference to the world. In addition I hope to organise a photography and poster competition for all schools in the Sefton area to increase awareness.
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