Pupils negotiate on the climate crisis at Stormont

LURGAN sixth form pupils were at Parliament Buildings, Stormont recently to debate on the biggest issue facing the planet – the climate crisis.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 6:38 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 6:45 pm

The pupils, from Lurgan College and St Ronan’s College, were taking part in British Council Northern Ireland’s COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event, which saw them join students from across the province to play the part of world leaders, lobbying groups or media, in a bid to discover what it’s like to negotiate a real climate deal.

The event, which used computer software by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate simulation, was taking place to coincide with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

During the negotiations, Lurgan College pupils played the part of Nigeria and the fossil fuel lobby, while St Ronan’s represented climate activists and South Africa. As part of the event, they had to collectively agree on how much they were going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by with current temperatures set to rise by 3.8°C, how they would help struggling nations, and agree on ways to adapt to climate change to protect their cities and people.

Pupils from St Ronan’s College took part in COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, playing the role of Climate Activists and representing South Africa

The negotiations were led by Dr Peter Doran, senior lecturer in Law, from Queen’s University Belfast, with pupils also zooming in to the event live from Egypt - with the British Columbia Canadian International School in El Sharouk taking on the role of the UK as part of the proceedings.

The event ended with the schools agreeing to reduce global temperature rises to 2.3 °C and securing enough funding through the Green Climate Fund to support future climate actions in both the developed and developing nations.

Ahead of the event, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen said: “Education plays a crucial role in informing our young people about climate change and its impact. Sustainable development is already part of the Northern Ireland curriculum via the World Around Us area of learning at primary level and through the Environment and Society area of learning at post-primary level. The COP 26 event is a great way to introduce a number of elements of the curriculum, together with current affairs, in a way that directly engages the pupils.”

Jonathan Stewart, director, British Council NI, said: “Today’s event put pupils in the hot seat by taking on the role of leaders – giving them a real flavour of what negotiations such as those taking place in COP26 are like. It’s also a chance for them to experience the complexities and challenges in reaching international agreement on such urgent global issues.

Lurgan College pupils Sarah Doonan and Siena McConaghie representing Nigeria at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

“Today’s initiative is part of our global programme, The Climate Connection, which brings young people around the world together in 2021 to meet the challenges of climate change ahead of COP26 through co-operation, dialogue and action. I am delighted that the voice of Northern Ireland’s young people continue to actively engage in this global programme.”

The Climate Connection, which launched in June 2021, brings people together through arts and culture, education, and the English language to address the climate emergency through a global programme of activity and engagement, with particular focus on young people aged 11 to 35. The programme supports young people to gain the skills and connections they need to address climate challenges

Through the programme, the British Council has reached almost two million people online and directly engaged with over 2,000 young people to date, including indigenous communities, artists, academics, scientists, and creative innovators, to find long-lasting, creative ways to tackle multiple issues relating to the climate crisis.

This negotiation event continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching.

St Ronan's College pupils Caitlyn O'Neill and Ava O'Neill representing South Africa at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

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Lurgan College pupils taking part at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont

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St Ronan's College pupils Emily Gillen and Evie Scullion, who acted as Climate Activists at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont
St Ronan's College pupils Caitlyn O'Neill and Ava O'Neill representing South Africa at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Lurgan College pupils Madison McConaghie and Eleanor Lockhart representing the fossil fuel lobby at the COP26 Climate Simulation Negotiation event at Parliament Buildings, Stormont