Northern Ireland

NI students debate on climate crisis at COP27 mock event in Belfast

The debate on climate crisis was held at Belfast City Hall yesterday
The debate on climate crisis was held at Belfast City Hall yesterday

PUPILS from across Northern Ireland yesterday played the part of politicians, journalists and lobbyists at a mock COP27 event in Belfast.

The debate on climate crisis was held at Belfast City Hall and gave students the opportunity to find out what it’s really like to negotiate a climate deal.

During the debate, which coincided with the UN Climate Change Conference currently being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, pupils had to agree on a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature from rising above two per cent.

To do this, they used computer software developed by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate simulation.

Pupils from schools across London and Egypt also took part in the negotiation via Zoom.

The event, which involved more than 80 students, was organised by the British Council Northern Ireland, and was led by Dr Peter Doran, senior lecturer in law at Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Doran said: "If there's a ray of hope in the midst of this climate and civilizational emergency it is the courage and leadership of young people.

"Many of us 'grown-ups' lose the art of asking the right questions along the way.

"Young people are less invested in business-as-usual."

He said that the event saw the participation of "upcoming global citizens, a generation who have come to understand that activism for the planet and justice is the royal road to wellbeing and the good life".

Jonathan Stewart, director of British Council NI, said he was delighted to see young people from across Northern Ireland, London and Egypt "have the chance to come together to actively engage in the challenges of climate change".

"This event put pupils at the head of the negotiating table giving them a real flavour of what negotiations such as those taking place at COP27 are like, giving them the skills and confidence to take on some of the world’s biggest challenges," he said.

"The initiative is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme which supports people globally to find creative solutions to climate change in support of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El Sheik this month.

"The British Council is supporting the summit by engaging with networks of young Egyptians, education professionals, students, academics, researchers, artists, civil society leaders and policymakers to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet."