Putting our change-makers at the forefront in the fight against climate change

Next week, world leaders will gather at COP26 to what many believe is our last chance to tackle climate change. COP, which stands for Conference of the Parties, is the United Nation’s annual climate change conference. The yearly summit sees world leaders and experts gather to make crucial decisions for our planet. Many will remember COP21 in 2015, where, after years of negotiations, the Paris Agreement was established and signed by almost all the countries in the world. The Paris Agreement was the first global treaty of its kind, outlining the steps governments needed to take to reduce emissions and help people adapt to a warmer world, so we could build a sustainable future. Now, in 2021, significant progress still needs to be made as current commitments do not put us on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The COP26 summit to be hosted in Glasgow next week will bring parties together once again to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. During the conference, each leader is to demonstrate their new commitments to further slow our climate crisis. These are to include ambitious 2030 emission reduction targets, mitigation measures to protect communities and natural habitats, and novel green finance solutions.

Many insiders believe that COP26 won’t reach its goal of having strong enough commitments from countries to cut global greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030. That means the world won’t be on a smooth course for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and the goal of keeping warming under 1.5 degrees C. Therefore, it is vital that we educate, engage and encourage change within our local community and with our young people so they can aid in making a positive impact.

St. Michael’s is Jersey’s first school to tackle sustainability, head on. The launch of our Social Impact Programme in September, saw our Shell students take on the role of young sustainability ambassadors – responsible for driving change within not only our school community, but Jersey and internationally.

As part of our new effort to combat our own carbon emissions, we are taking pro-active steps to educate and engage our students to make a change as a part of COP26 through learning. Between 1st and 12th November, the Old Gym will be converted into a St. Michael’s COP26 Hub – featuring a permanent live stream from COP26 for the whole school to enjoy. It is our responsibility as educators to ensure that what we teach young people is relevant and how we teach them is exciting. Sustainability is multi-disciplinary. Therefore, teachers across the school will have the option of utilising our COP26 Hub for their teaching and learning as they choose, in addition to being open for students and staff to experience in their free time.

This week Lego has issued COP26 with a handbook, constructed by children on how to tackle the climate crisis, featuring 10 instructions for world leaders. The Toymaker’s instructions for a better world form part of their ‘Build the Change’ initiative, one that St. Michael’s is itself embracing over the next two weeks. The school will be leading a teaching framework conceptualised by Lego so we can create our own set of instructions for local leaders. As part of this activity to encourage our students to act from a ‘systems thinking’ approach our school’s values can also be applied to the world’s climate crisis. Care: taking care of our planet – reducing our carbon footprint so our world has a long life. Consideration: to consider how we go about ourselves and decisions we make. Courtesy: be courteous in how we treat those in our communities from different backgrounds.

At St. Michael’s our vision is not only to deliver an exemplary level of teaching and learning to your children but also to build a better world; for your generation, our generation and the next generation. Our intention is that our involvement in COP26 will help raise the much-needed profile of the world’s climate crisis in our local community but moreover provide our young people will a holistic view on the world, enabling and empowering them to become well-rounded global citizens.

We do not own our planet; it is a gift. We all have a part to play in ensuring we pass it to the next generation, in safe and good hands.

To find out more about COP26, please visit: https://ukcop26.org.