Educate on Climate day, New York Times Climate Hub, 5th November

Mark Irwin reflects on his visit to Educate on Climate day at COP26.

Every Saturday growing up, I would visit my grandparents in their flat in Govan.  I would peer out of their kitchen window, looking across the graving docks and the Clyde to the gothic tower of Glasgow University high on the hill, and ask questions about all that I could see.  Today I look back towards their flat from the train window as I head to the New York Times Climate Hub.  The tented expanse of the COP 26 Blue Zone covers the riverbank from the SEC to the Riverside Museum.  The graving docks are lit up with letters 7m high and 70m long. The text “No New Worlds” faces the leaders and delegates across the river, a reminder to all of the climate  emergency we face.

 

I pass through the layers of security at the Climate Hub and stand in the foyer to get my bearings.  Instantly I bump into people I’ve been working with these last few months online and it really is a fantastic feeling to finally meet in person.  I listen to a panel discussion from the World Health Organisation on the impact of climate change on health and mortality around the world.  It is a stark message, and one that needs to be heard more.  I bump into more teachers and we head for a table to talk about what we have heard, and what we can do to move Learning for Sustainability forward post COP 26.  Words that feature often are empathy, humanity, empowerment alongside the need to make deeper connections across Scotland and the world.  I listen and reflect on how important it is to listen to those on the frontline, and hope that the delegates in the Blue Zone are doing the same.

 

It’s a Friday.  It’s the world’s biggest summit on climate change. So of course there is a Fridays for the Future climate march, the global movement started by Greta Thunberg.  It has grown from Greta sitting solo in strike outside the Swedish parliament in 2018 to over 14 million strikers worldwide in 7,500 cities. The Glasgow march leaves from Kelvingrove Park, only 10 minutes from the Hub.  I head over to meet some young people and to chat to them and their parents about the March.  About 30,000 protesters head off towards George Square to hear young climate activists from around the world.  I head back to the Hub feeling exhilarated by these conversations.

 

I’m back in time to grab a coffee and head in to the Forum for a session on Future Proofing pupils for the Changing world of work.  It’s a lively and fascinating panel, including Chris van de Kuyl of Minecraft fame, and AI researcher Professor Rose Luckin of UCL.  However it is a comment from Professor Dave Reay of Edinburgh University that really strikes a chord with me.  It’s not about making our young people “Future Ready”, its actually supporting them to be “Now Ready”.

 

Professor Reay’s comment solidified a feeling I’ve had since COP 26 began.  We use the word future all the time when we talk about climate change and its impacts. But does the use of this word give decision makers a get-out to put off the actions urgently needed now?  Hearing from people from across the globe, and in particular young people who are already living with the effects of climate change, it’s clear that delivery of actions needs to happen now.  If it is left to the future, then it is too late.

 

 

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