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My student experience at COP26

Climate protest outside Town Hall

Hi everyone! I’m Alice, a Biology student at the University of Sheffield and a volunteer at the Vivarium in my spare time. This year, I was chosen by the Students Union to participate in the events and workshops surrounding the Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. This was an exciting opportunity for me as I have never participated in a climate movement or even travelled to Glasgow!

Every workshop and seminar were orientated around the social change individuals wanted to see in order to tackle the climate change crisis. This involved several speakers from across the globe collaborating in a discussion on these topics.

My favourite talk was on indigenous rights and how our perception of them has changed through time, which involved a panel discussing their perspectives from different regions across the globe. I also really enjoyed a workshop around the issues with urban developments and the pressures they have put on the environment. This involved collaborating to discuss issues within our own cities and what we could do to help change it.

The most noteworthy conversation I had was with an individual from Glasgow, who described the catastrophic problem of urban pollution and how it is leading to poor human health amongst urban dwellers. This individual was passionate and eager to improve urban health by creating transport free zones within the inner city. Hearing about the changes that individuals are driving within their cities really inspired me to promote change within my own community.

Supporting the climate movement with my peers

After attending COP26, I realised how important it is that we all work together to tackle the common problem of climate change and that raising awareness is a key component in achieving this. This led to me signing up for a leadership role within the Students Union working with children and developing classroom sessions on sustainability.

This is something of which I feel like the curriculum fails to cover and needs to be addressed and as a result, I am in the process of planning classroom sessions which shed a light on the current climate issue and what we can do about it. I feel that this will be an effective way to spread the word regarding the issue by directing information towards the next generation.

Overall, I had the most incredible time in Glasgow, networking with likeminded people and discussing the changes that we wish to see in current policy. I made some unforgettable memories which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the support from both the team at the vivarium as well as my close family and friends.

COP 21 – the time is now

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