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Voice of youth - Part 1

The Climate Change Commission for Wales met on Thursday last week, and the agenda included an opportunity for one of Wales' young climate champions to speak. This time around, it was Cerith Jones' turn to attend; hot from a coaching session at TYF the weekend before with other climate champions, Cerith turned the taps on full and delivered an excellent speech calling on the commissioners present to up their game and start to address the issue of change with greater urgency and ambition. Notwithstanding that Wales is already doing much good work, it's still not enough, and hearing a call for change and speed from someone young, informed and passionate was excellent. Cerith had a big impact on his audience - the minister and heads of organisations representing the climate change arena.  Selected passaged of his talk provide the evidence that young people can have when they are given the opportunity to be heard:


Cerith Rhys Jones, Climate Change Champion for Wales 2009

Climate Change Commission for Wales, 25 June 2009


“A carbon emission reduction target of 3% is a good place to start, but scientific research has shown that we need to look at a target more like 9% and higher.... We have some forty years’ worth of oil left. Is now not the time to use what resources we have, to build a self-sufficient and renewable society? I want the Climate Change Commission for Wales (CCCW) and Welsh Assembly (WAG) to continue to work towards a sustainable future for Wales, but I want you all to up your game. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to introduce climate change legislation, but I want Wales to be the first country in the world to be a self-sufficient nation.


“As a young person, it’s my generation that will have to deal with tomorrow’s consequences to today’s actions. In fifty years’ time, it’s my generation that will be the leaders, doctors, lawyers, workers, parents and adults of this world and so it’s essential now, that we play an active and leading role in tackling climate change. Yes, the Countdown to Copenhagen Youth Conference is a good way to gauge popular youth opinion on climate change, but my judgement is that it isn’t enough. The Eco Schools movement isn’t enough. Young people need to play a leading role in policy and targets and as impractical as that may be, it’s what I think is needed. We are going to be in charge when climate change is at its peak so, shouldn’t we really be in charge now, so that we can determine what we want to happen and how we want to tackle the climate crisis?


“I’m calling on the CCCW and WAG to look into setting up a Youth Climate Change Commission for Wales – not a youth led forum, but an appointed group of young people who represent all of Wales’ young people, to work closely with the CCCW and WAG on a regular basis so that they know exactly what we want to happen.


Education is a major part of tackling climate change. If the pupils in Wales’ schools don’t know what climate change is, or how they can tackle it, and the importance of that, then what hope is there for us to survive the climate crisis? Frankly, I don’t believe that Wales’ young people are being educated adequately on climate change... I’ve learned that a teacher at her school has taught the pupils that climate change isn’t true, and has only presented facts and figures in a negative light.


“ I want this commission to put pressure on all of Wales’ local authorities to ensure that every school in the country is taking vigorously effective steps to tackle climate change. I want young people to be a part of this process. I believe that eco committees should have the power and capacity, in co-operation with schools’ councils and governors, to make decisions, to say what should be happening, and to employ methods by which serious steps can be taken. I want every school in our country to be actively working to reduce its carbon footprint –


I want the CCCW and WAG to work with businesses to ensure that we increase the amount of local food we buy, and thus decrease our food miles. I want the CCCW and WAG to see to it that when something is grown or produced in one place, it isn’t transported across the country for packaging, then shipped all the way back to be sold. We’re in a ridiculous situation, where we’re pointlessly emitting tones of carbon dioxide each year, when we could be developing local economies and cutting our emissions. I want the CCCW and WAG to help Wales work towards a future where food is grown and sold locally, with as little packaging as possible.


“The public transport network in Wales needs to be drastically changed – we need modern buses that run on time, and not just in urban areas. I want the CCCW and WAG to look into ways of doing this. Again, using my local area as an example, I call on the CCCW and WAG, to develop cycling and walking opportunities throughout our country. Without designated cycling paths, and not just exposed, narrow, green lanes on main roads, how can people be expected to make the effort to cycle or walk instead of driving? In my opinion, it’s completely and utterly unreasonable to ask people to do so when if they do, they’re exposing themselves to the danger of passing cars.


“If I weren’t a Climate Change Champion, I wouldn’t know what happens in the CCCW meetings; I wouldn’t know what the commission does. I’ve searched for the commission’s website, I’ve searched for a Facebook group, but I found nothing. If people are going to know how important the commission is, they need to have a way to get hold of basic information about what the commission, and that from a user-friendly website.


“We’re just not doing enough. I’ve made a lot of requests in this statement. I’ve called on the CCCW and WAG to do a lot of things. They may think that I’m being unreasonable or extreme, but I believe that if we as a country cannot trust the Climate Change Commission for Wales or the Welsh Assembly Government to take the appropriate steps to tackle climate change, whom can we trust? Now is the time for us to prepare for a major shift in the way we live our lives, and I look forward to seeing what the CCCW and WAG will do in the coming months to see that appropriate and significant steps are taken to prepare Wales for the climate crisis, and to equip Wales with the tools to tackle it.


Thank you.



Reader Comments (1)

Powerful stuff.

July 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt J

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