On the day of the first Global Student Strike for Climate, 15 March 2019, the United Nations Association Coventry Branch organised a Climate Emergency Forum in Coventry Council House.
The aim was to allow the City Council to tell students what they are already doing about climate change and to let students tell Councillors what more they would like them to do. In fact only Councillor Roger Bailey was able to attend but he provided very valuable input into the discussion. In addition Dr Alastair Smith and Professor David Mond attended from the University of Warwick and helped to manage the event.
The main student speakers were Samren Reddy, a Climate Campaigner from Rugby and Shreya Virdee representing the UK Student Climate Network.
Nevertheless, the students who attended gave eloquent accounts of their struggles to raise climate change as an issue, and described the “massive stigma about being different. If you voice your passion about the climate you are suddenly an outsider. You are not socially acceptable. You should not be listened to but ridiculed.”
Many ideas were discussed such as to:
- Engage high-profile personalities such as Leonardo Dicaprio to send a message of support
- Engage home-educated students, many of whom are already taking action on climate change
- Invite university lecturers into schools to run assemblies
- Show films about climate change
- Create a petition for the City Council.
- Make sure there are recycling bins around school sites
- Tell canteens to stop using disposable cups, plates and utensils.
Two main ideas were discussed during the event and will be followed up. These will build on the ideas listed above:
1) Eco-Teams in Schools
The student’s main suggestion was that every school should form an eco-team to work with the school council and start to break down the stigma and get people to take climate change seriously and voice their true opinions.
These eco-teams should also send representatives to meetings in the Council House at which they could coordinate their efforts and to which city councillors should be invited. Indeed it was suggested that Ward Councillors should be invited to attend eco-team meetings and events in schools.
Philip Brown, Secretary of the United Nations Association Coventry Branch (which organised the event) undertook to move this forward.
2) Climate Emergency Motion
Dr Smith was keen to encourage the Council to pass a Climate Emergency Declaration, similar to around 40 other councils in the UK and many more world-wide, as described here. He undertook to move this forward.
There is an annotated video of the full event here which shows the text of the main points raised. It also summarises the actions which have been undertaken as a result.
UNA Coventry thanks Dr Alastair Smith and Professor David Mond from the University of Warwick, Councillor Roger Bailey for listening to the students and offering his advice, students Samren Reddy, Shreya Virdee and the many others who took part.
A shorter video is available here which summarises event.