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MockCOP: Students from schools across Wales gather to have their say on climate change.

 

The MockCOP provides a platform for students to debate and vote on global issues – a rare opportunity for many 14-18 year olds. Held at an actual debating chamber in Cardiff, the event replicates the United Nations climate change conference. Students become delegates for the day and must agree to a resolution on climate change issues.

MockCOP © Mike Erskine / Size of WalesMockCOP © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales

MockCOP

The annual event is organised by Size of Wales. We’re excited to attend this year as Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF UK, takes on the role of Secretary General. The role involves managing the discussions and debates.

The students arrive. They’re all chatty and eager as they take their seats. Students are split into small teams – each team representing a different nation.

They have prepared and researched their position on climate change for the debate. Committed to their delegate roles, students even dressed in traditional costume. It soon becomes clear that this really helps to get them into character!

Denmark. MockCOP 2017 © Mike Erskine / Size of WalesDenmark. MockCOP 2017. © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales Germany. MockCOP 2017. © Mike Erskine / Size of WalesGermany. MockCOP 2017. © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales

The Opening

The Philippines step up to address the room with an opening resolution:

Proposed MockCOP resolution. WWF CymruProposed MockCOP resolution. WWF Cymru

Delegates begin the debate with concerns around enforcing ambitious targets on developing nations. There is also disagreement among developed nations around how much development aid funding should be made available.
Questions are also raised around funds, and the use of funds, with concerns around corruption. Delegates suggest addressing this through investment in technology; which has both beneficial outputs globally and locally. They also stress that if no agreement is met, money still needs to reach countries most at need to relieve suffering.

A number of delegates move the focus of the debate to the decrease in deforestation. They see this as the most achievable resolution and the one which could have the biggest impact. They also see reforestation as equally important. Many delegates now suggest setting targets for tree planting.

Negotiations

Negotiations begin in a separate room but representatives from delegations continue a debate in the chamber. They are negotiating the terms of the original resolution.

The Vote

With everyone now returning to the debating chamber, it’s time to vote. There’s further discussion throughout the voting stage. This results in a few changes to the original statement. The changes include freezing debt for developing countries until climate targets are met. They also include replanting targets to support the resolution on deforestation.

Delegates of Saudi Arabia contributing to the debate. MockCOP 2017. © Mike Erskine / Size of WalesDelegates of Saudi Arabia contributing to the debate. MockCOP 2017. © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales

Following the changes, four resolutions were agreed to and carried. These included:

3. All developed countries freeze a percentage of debt owed to them by developing countries – provided certain pledges are made. Debt is unfrozen once criteria relating to carbon emissions and deforestation are successfully met.

5. Decrease deforestation by 70% and developed countries to boost global reforestation by 30-40% before end of 2019.

The only resolution which was not carried was the fourth; to increase development aid.

and finally…

For the final task, students share their own opinions on Wales’ role in tackling climate change. Students present the following:

  • Use of public transport should be encouraged more to reduce emissions.
  • Sheep farming in Wales is inefficient. Farmers are currently keeping land bare, resulting in a lack of biodiversity. A change in how we subsidise farming in Wales is needed to tackle current land use and increase carbon absorption.
  • There should be higher tax on fuel to subsidise investment in electric cars.
  • Raise the carrier bag charge to 10p to further reduce plastic use and production.
  • Reward those who switch to electric vehicles, through offering a grant to help switch or lowering the overall cost of electric vehicles.
  • Increase awareness of climate change in Wales. Focus on how climate change affects us. Through this approach, they hope to reach those who aren’t motivated by the global impact.
  • Push the message of how close we are to the point of no return and how severe climate change is now.
  • Cardiff is currently the fastest growing city in Europe but most of the growth is happening outward into green-field sites. They’d like to see the growth focused in the brownfield sites.
2017 Team! MockCOP © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales2017 Team! MockCOP © Mike Erskine / Size of Wales

Our Message

Our final message to the students is that we’ve certainly learnt a lot. We will make sure that their voices and concerns are now heard in COP23, Bonn and beyond.

Following the debate, Tanya Steele said:

“There is no doubt that these young people have put incredible research forward and have articulated it really well. It’s been hugely impressive to hear so many young people both understand the issues and, most importantly, put forward proposals for the future.

“Many of the proposals will be taken by Size of Wales and WWF into discussions in and around the Bonn conference. We think it’s essential that young voices are heard on this question. Climate change is one of the defining issues and threats of our times. It’s important that young people both understand it but also highlight what they expect to be done about it. This is their world, it’s their planet for the future, and they have every right to ask us to do our very best to protect it for them.”

Catch the coverage of the event and interview with Tanya on Made in Cardiff TV.

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