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NOTE: The national 'Young Climate Change Champions' competition organised by the
Background to the 2008-9 Young Climate Change Champions
The nine young winners of the search for regional Climate Change Champions were announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Minister for Climate Change Joan Ruddock on 20th February 2008. This followed the national competition organised by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to find nine new young climate change champions. The new champions undertook a European climate change expedition to the Netherlands shortly after their appointment.
To enter, any young person who was a permanent resident of England and aged between 11-18 years needed to demonstrate how they could encourage their friends, family, school or community to make positive steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Entries could take any format from a news report, documentary or case-study to website page, poster, the front page of a newspaper, video, radio feature or any other method of engagement.
Shirley Halse, 15, from Chippenham, won through the national competition to become the 2008 Young Climate Change Champion for the South West. Shirley successfully demonstrated how she would encourage behavioural change and tackle climate change in the South West.
Winners of the competition, organised by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) undertook the following activities:
They also received £1000 to organise a climate change themed event at their school, college or within their community.
The Champions documented their experiences on www.footprintfriends.com - a website dedicated to young people across the world who are interested in the environment and climate change.
The new Climate Change Champions had an action packed, fact finding expedition in the Netherlands immediately after their appointment. The trip enabled the nine young ambassadors to witness the impacts of climate change on a low lying country and see the adaptation techniques used in the Netherlands first hand. During the visit the Climate Change Champions:
Shirley said: "Our trip was inspirational. The Netherlands have proved that sustainable living can be achieved and now we need to take action. It has given me new optimism and lots of ideas which I hope to use to spread my message in the year ahead.'
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This is Shirley's account on her trip to London and her successful appointment as the South West's Young Climate Change Champion
I arrived in London on 20th February not knowing what to expect. The tube journey seemed to take forever (after I had started counting stations when we missed our first stop, not my fault I hasten to add). We got there, arriving at the hotel I remember thinking, I'll be able to relax a bit now (that's what jinxed it). "We're going to the sky lounge for some tea" Adam (the boss, essentially) told us. He managed to say two bad words, according to me, in one sentence (tea - yuck! - and sky - I had seen this hotel and was under no misconceptions) so I asked a stupid question. "Where's that?" "Thirtieth floor", the top. ....Oh..... (imagine a look of shock/imminent death, that was me) Relax? I'd be lucky.
The lift was jerky. Then there were steps. The second set of stairs was optional, guess which I chose. We had lunch, a quite enjoyable one considering how high up we were; I suppose the altitude makes you hungrier. Kate came in (media, lots of phone calls!) and gave us sheets. "Interviews" Ah... no pressure then...I had the first one. Back into the jerky lift :-) . Considering the phones didn't work for ages and I was recovering from altitude sickness the interviews went quite well. Although after listening to my radio interview, I realize the random laughter was quite weird.
I also had to go for a television interview, so I put on my smart jacket and we walked to a green next to the houses of parliament. The interview took about 5 minutes and I believed it was the best so far, apart from the parts where I trail off a bit towards the end (and knowing my luck, no prizes for guessing which part actually got aired for 5 seconds). We spent a while in a juice bar, waiting for the others so we could walk to Downing Street. I was there with Pippa (East Midlands) and Adam (not the boss, East of England - I'll colour code or this may get confusing), they had had TV interviews also. When the others arrived we all (quite a big group) walked to Number 10. We had pictures outside with Joan Ruddock ('Parliamentary Under Secretary - Climate Change, Biodiversity and Waste' - and there was me thinking 'Climate Change Champion for the South West' was a bit of a mouthful!). See picture:
We walked inside, up the spiral stairs with the pictures of previous Prime Ministers lining the walls. Tony Blair was there, grinning at us from the top. I was looking round frantically, I have to remember all this so I can tell everyone, my immediate thought after that was...it's very yellow. We were offered tea and kitkats (my dad managed to embarrass me by saying rather loudly "the tea isn't too bad in this place" - the 'head' of the UK, hmmm). We walked through into a room with pillars (possibly called the pillared room, can't think why...) and sat at a table. Gordon Brown was supposed to answer our questions but he was late due to a speech so Joan Ruddock answered them.
I asked 'Why say yes to nuclear power when renewable energy is much less expensive, much less dangerous and there is much more of it?' and she told me some excuses like "Renewable is more expensive if it's large scale, like the severn barrage" and "We need to create a mix of the two" (Yes, so we are doing something about the Climate Change problem but adding to the future's problem of nuclear poisoning - don-t get me started on nuclear). After her deflection of questions, we waited for Gordon Brown to come. After a wait he emerged, "Hello" (loud voice, arms open, big smile) and started to talk to us, which he wasn't supposed to do (tut-tut). We had our pictures taken with him (lucky me... that turned out well) while we were talking about our entries with him (I have decided that I can't smile AND talk AND think). We sat down again and he spoke to us about an island he had visited off the coast of Australia that was at a big risk from sea level rise.
Jess (North West) read her speech to him and wished him happy birthday on all of our behalves. He asked us about what was the most important aspect to reduce and what our events would be (hang on; I thought we were supposed to ask the questions). Thanking us for coming he departed for another appointment that I forget. We had a quick tour of the house, there was a door that went nowhere just so the room was equal (when we were doing symmetry in houses in my history lesson I was tempted to go "well, when I went to number 10..." but I thought it might be a bit showy!) We retrieved our cameras, had a few more pictures and interviews outside the door and then we had free time in London for two hours!
My father and I decided to go to the Houses of Lords and Commons. After another security check (we had one before entering number 10) we were allowed through, in the House of Commons about ten people were debating five words on the European constitution, I nearly fell asleep and we went out when I started to have a coughing fit (I blame the dust). The House of Lords was more ornate and people were arguing about Northern Rock, but I succumbed to coughing again. We walked back to the hotel, it was cold and I only had my smart jacket on, it is not very good at keeping me warm.
We had a posh dinner at the hotel on a rather lower floor, second (We were sleeping on fifth so I got used to jerky lift after a while). We had a talk from Karen Ford who runs footprintfriends.com the site on which the Climate Change Champions are being hosted, aimed at getting young people talking about Climate Change. We received footprint friends poster packs and Adam gave us cagoules for our boat trip (Now that's a good story). After sneaking a second chocolate yummy raspberry thing we went back up the jerky lift to our room, watched torchwood (didn't make any sense cause I don't watch it - I have no TV*) and went to sleep.
Watch this space for more epic stories (from about three months ago) of what Superhero Shirley the Climate Change Champion is doing (for the South West). I'll try and make a comic!
*FAQ. What's not having a television like? Very Peaceful (although my dad has one, he tapes the essentials like Dr Who, My family and Have I Got News For You.)
P.S. This wasn't exaggerated THAT much. The altitude was OK, but I guess it's easy to say that afterwards. (Here's a random fact - I love mountains, just hate tall buildings, I just mistrust the manmade structures...I don't know how I'd feel about Silbury Hill.)
Shirley Halse, 2008
Shirley Halse takes to the seas
On 26 September 2008 Shirley joined world leading scientists and researchers at Plymouth Marine Laboratory to investigate the possible effects of climate change on our seas.
Shirley accompanied the crew of PML's research ship, the RV MBA Sepia, on a trip to Plymouth Sound and the River Tamar on Friday (26 September) to undertake a short trawl to demonstrate the diversity of marine life in the area.
She was then given a tour of the labs, took part in an ocean acidification experiment and met Nobel Laureate, Dr Carol Turley, a microbial biologist, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Shirley said: "There is such a wealth of life under the sea that goes unnoticed. If we are not careful we will lose it before it's even discovered. Shirley said: "There is such a wealth of life under the sea that goes unnoticed. If we are not careful we will lose it before it's even discovered."
Dr Turley said: "It's wonderful that Shirley, the South West's Climate Change Champion, is visiting Plymouth Marine Laboratory and seeing just a bit of the work we are doing here on climate change and ocean acidification. In a sense, she represents the younger generation and it's good to see them really talking up this challenging issue. I have especially enjoyed hearing her ideas on what humanity, and that includes everyone one of us, can do to combat climate change."
PML is an independent, impartial provider of scientific research, contract services and advice for the marine environment, with a focus on understanding how marine ecosystems function and reducing uncertainty about the complex processes and structures that sustain life in the seas and their role in the Earth system. PML has a long history of investigating the causes and impacts of climate change on the oceans and more recently, the other less known CO2 problem of ocean acidification.
Low Carbon Hierarchy
See Shirley Halse describing the 'Low Carbon Hierarchy' on oursouthwest's YouTube channel by clicking on the image below (the script for the video is reproduced below also).
The following is the script from the Low Carbon Hierarchy YouTube video:-
Hi, I'm Shirley, the 2008 South West Young Climate Change Champion. I want to encourage you to reduce your carbon footprint. Climate change is an important issue and we need to take action now!
The best way to take effective action is by using the low carbon hierarchy in our everyday lives, whether at home, school or at work. Together we can all play our part to act on CO2.
Let me explain what the low carbon hierarchy is. It has three simple steps.
STEP 1. REDUCE
The first, easiest and most cost effective of the 3 steps is to REDUCE. We should avoid wasting energy by not using it when we don't need to.
This includes turning off unnecessary lights, turning the heating down to a sensible level - put on a jumper if you are feeling cold, don't turn the heating up! Or walking or cycling for short journeys rather than taking the car.
It also means using energy more efficiently. For example use low energy light bulbs and choose equipment and appliances with low CO2 ratings. These both save money and reduce your CO2 emissions.
STEP 2. REPLACE
After reducing your CO2 emissions, the next step is REPLACE. This means replacing fossil fuels where ever possible with renewable sources of energy such as the energy created by the wind turbine that you can see behind me. Or if you still need to use fossil fuels, use the most energy efficient systems that you can. For example, upgrading your boiler.
STEP 3. NEUTRALISE (but only after taking action on steps 1 and 2)
The next and final step is to NEUTRALISE your remaining unavoidable CO2 emissions. You can do this by supporting projects that reduce CO2 emissions or by planting trees. As trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the air and they improve the environment for supporting wildlife.
So there you have it. It's easy. Just remember:
Climate Change at Brownsea Island
See Shirley Halse's YouTube video on her 4-day residential project on Brownsea Island, Dorset, organised by the National Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and GYGSAW (Green Youth Group Swindon and Wiltshire) on oursouthwest's YouTube channel by clicking on the image below.
Shirley reports on the group's findings concerning climate change and how this will impact on the island's wildlife, habitats and shore-line.
The first South West Young Climate Change Champion, for 2006-7, was Lucy Stansfield.
Lucy Stansfield (then 13) from Wellington, Somerset won through the final selection process of the national competition organised by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) for her DVD news report on climate change to be selected as the South West's Climate Change Champion on 11 May 2006. The appointment of a young climate change champion in each English region forms part of the Government's Climate Change Communications Initiative, "Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge" announced in December 2005.
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Lucy Stansfield helps launch Fair Shares, Fair Choice in Bristol, 23 March 2007
Lucy has given her support to a new campaign launched on 23 March by Sustainability South West. 'Fair Shares Fair Choice', which has received Defra funding, aims to encourage and assist people in the South West in reducing their carbon emissions by offering people in the region a personal carbon budget card. The carbon cards are based on a new 10-year carbon budget, set by Sustainability South West, which shows that CO2 emissions need to drop by 10 per cent this year and by 30 per cent by 2017.
The project was launched at Bordeaux Quay, a restaurant and cookery school on Bristol's waterside, which is committed to minimising its impact on the environment by employing a range of sustainable practices, including sourcing local food where possible, recycling and reusing packaging and using the rain water from the roof to flush the toilets.
Speaking at the launch, Lucy said: 'I am very excited to be here to support this project in my local region. Since I started in my role I have been working hard to get the message across that we need to take steps now to reduce our carbon emissions and this idea of a carbon budget card is a great and easy way for us to do this. It's not very hard to be environmentally friendly, so get on the wagon and start to make a difference today!'
Leslie Watson, Director of Sustainability South West, said: 'The challenge of climate change calls out for champions to inspire us to take more carbon positive choices. Young and old, from the public, business or voluntary sectors, the Fair Shares, Fair Choice project will spur us on towards a more sustainable future for all.'
The Fair Shares, Fair Choice website is at www.fairsharesfairchoice.com.
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Lucy Stansfield joins the other young climate change champions to see the impacts of climate change on a Swiss glacier, July 2006
The Gurschen glacier, nearly 3,000m (10,000 feet) above sea level, is melting like many others across the world, with the worst damage taking place in the summer. The glacier has sunk 20m (66 feet) over the past 15 years, making Andermatt's ski slopes very inaccessible. Researchers say that 70 per cent of Switzerland's glaciers will disappear in the next 30 years, due to the effects of global warming. In a bid to stop the glacier retreating further, scientists have put a thin protective layer of foil covering an area of around 3-4,00 square metres (about 43,000 sq ft).
Before leaving for Switzerland Lucy said, "The Swiss trip will be a great experience for all of us champions. I am so excited to learn new information on climate change and see some of the effects for myself. I hope to learn and tell people that just because we can't necessarily see the effects of climate change in England, we are not damaging the planet. The trip I'm sure will be an eye-opener for everyone and it will make all the champions more aware of the dangers of climate change than we are already. I will be taking photos - visual evidence will be a great help so kids my age can see the effects that not turning off the light has!"
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Lucy Stansfield addresses major climate change summit in London
Lucy spoke on 13 July 2006 alongside Environment Minister Mr Ian Pearson at a major youth climate change four-day summit, at the Natural History Museum, London. Lucy also met Chinese environment ambassadors attending the summit.
Speaking at the summit, Lucy said that unless action was taken now, the world would look a very different place. She said that too many young people felt that climate change was still years away or that it was happening elsewhere and would only mean melting ice caps and hotter summers.
"I am here to tell you that it does matter. If we don't act now, this glorious world will not exist as we know it. Instead, low-lying
land will disappear under the rising sea and fertile land will turn into desert. Our homes contribute 30 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions - so we are all responsible."
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This is Lucy's report on her reaction to being appointed as the South West's Young Climate Change Champion:-
When I went to London, the whole time was amazing. I never even imagined I'd get this far! When I went for the interview, I was so nervous; it felt like my tummy was doing flips! I got to where they were holding the interview and they announced that they were running early, so before I knew it, I was in there talking to them about why I felt strongly for climate change.
Anyway, after that I got informed that I had won the competition. I was so thrilled and it has just about hit me, but only just.
When I went to London I could hardly believe that in a couple of hours I would be meeting all these VIPs.
We got to the Defra headquarters (Nobel House) where we were rushed into a room, where we met Ian Pearson (the Minister of Climate Change) and were handed our certificate. That was all too good and we were all blown away by the whole experience. We then WALKED to Number 10 where we met Sir David King who represents the government on climate change.
We all had questions to ask him and mine was: '50,000 people die every year due to climate change, how can we significantly reduce this figure?' He replied, '"Everyone can do their bit to try and stop climate change, it's not just down to factories like most people think but at the end of the day the whole world is going to be affected by the devastation of climate change.'"
We then were all showed into the gardens, where we met David Milliband, who is the new Secretary of State for the Environment. He was very nice and genuine, he really made you feel like he really cared for the environment. Then to our surprise who came out of the house but, Tony Blair!
He talked to us about what we feel about climate change and what we did to win this competition, he shook our hands and we walked around the gardens, he even talked to the boys about which football team they support! After that he had individual photos taken with the champion and their parent. When that had finished we went outside to answer to the media. We went on TV and talked to newspapers etc.
When we got back to the hotel, the people at Defra got a call telling us that Tony Blair was so impressed that he wanted us to go back and do a live report for the live lunchtime news on ITV! We didn't think it could get any better than that and never wanted it to end, but this is only the beginning!
I am so privileged to have this role and I am not going to waste it. I want Britain to do something about climate change. That could mean not using your cars when you could walk - that is good all-round, you won't be polluting and you will burn off that pizza you had for lunch! Turn lights off, wear a jumper and turn down the heating. Ooh, and not forgetting, turn off the taps while brushing your teeth!!!
Lucy Stansfield, May 2006
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Background to the 2008-9 Young Climate Change Champions
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