Climate Change Challenge 2005

Helping young people from Bristol investigate and challenge the local authority on climate change

Project duration: February 2004 to July 2005

The south west of England has been at the forefront in setting targets for renewable electricity and is developing a sustainable energy strategy that will consider both energy supply and energy use. Each local authority in the region is developing its own policy position and strategy for action.

The Climate Change Challenge sought to engage young people with these issues, linking to the elements of the National Curriculum associated with active citizenship. The aim was to develop an approach in one secondary school in each of four unitary authorities that will enable young people to:

  • investigate and challenge how their local authority has responded to the commitments made by the UK Government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and address the impacts of climate change
  • enhance their own knowledge and understanding of climate change and sustainable energy issues
  • develop skills that will empower them to engage and participate in local democratic processes.

The four schools that signed up for the Climate Change Challenge were Broadlands (Bath and North East Somerset), St Katherine’s (North Somerset), Cotham (Bristol) and Kingsfield (South Gloucestershire).

The Climate Change Challenge involved young people from each participating school’s lower sixth form. Students addressed three key questions/themes:

  1. How is your local authority responding to the UK Government’s commitment to addressing climate change as outlined within the recent Energy White Paper?
  2. What is the potential in your local authority area to contribute to the recently adopted target for developing renewable electricity by 2010 within the former Avon area?
  3. What can you, your family, your school and your community do to play a greater part in responding to the challenge posed by the threat of climate change?

The four centres decided how best to deliver the activities within each theme. In two sixth form centres the project was delivered through time dedicated to citizenship, and in the other two centres the project was delivered as an extra curricular activity for geography students in one and any volunteer in the other. Research by the students included site visits to investigate the application of renewable energy technologies, conducting opinion surveys and interviews with local authority officers.

CSE organised and facilitated a conference on 1 July 2005. Students had the opportunity to present their findings and recommendations to local authority representatives, officers and councillors, and representatives from regional bodies and national government. Their considered responses to the young people’s suggestions were fed back to the students after the conference.

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