Young people can save our planet

Nov 4, 2021

By Macy Richardson, Public Relations Apprentice, EngineeringUK

What we do today changes tomorrow and every step we take leads us in a new direction – so why not make that step count? Young people are leading us in the right direction. They can shape our future and they can save our planet. The steps they take are calculated and well-thought-out – something which we should all mimic.

As part of the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week team, I am proud to say that I attended the Schools COP Summit on 13 October. It gave young people from schools across the UK the opportunity to discuss the importance of achieving net zero and why we should reduce our carbon footprint. I was impressed by the thoughts of the young people - their knowledge is profound, and I have certainly learnt a thing or two from listening to their ideas. I am only a little older than these students who took part in the Schools COP but there is a big difference between our thinking, with these young people already thinking of ways to save our planet and create a net zero future. I was blown away by their answers in the discussions and it was clear to me that our future is in good hands, however, it is not only up to the young people to save our planet. Everyone can contribute, whether it be small or big, to give us a brighter and greener future.

Tackling climate change

The topics discussed in Tomorrow’s Engineers Week Schools COP mirrored the COP26 Climate Summit which takes place on 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow. COP26 unites the world to tackle climate change and bring nations together to find ways in which we can all reduce our carbon footprint. This is such an important event which will affect everyone – not only me but you also. As temperatures are becoming more extreme and sea levels are rising, it is vital that we find solutions to these issues. Even the smallest things such as recycling a piece of paper or using a reusable water bottle can make a huge difference. There is no better time than now!

Before I joined EngineeringUK, I had little knowledge about the severity of climate change and even engineering itself. I knew the basics such as the increasing wildfires and sea levels rising, but not how engineering plays a huge part in finding solutions and tackling these global issues. Though these can be viewed as frightening times, this is essentially a great time to be an engineer because of the endless opportunities to drive the change we need to see.

Schools COP gave young people a voice

There are hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren across the country who are unsure of how to take action and change the world for the better, and this is why Tomorrow’s Engineers Week organised Schools COP, giving young people the platform to bring their ideas forward. Over 70 outstanding students from more than 30 schools took part and worked together to voice their views on climate change and why achieving net zero is so important.

Listening to the students allowed me to understand engineering on a deeper level. The fact that some of them could point out drastic changes which have occurred in their local communities, such as increased cases of flooding leading to a bridge collapsing, clearly justifies why urgent changes need to be made. In my local community by the coast, I have experienced severe weathers including flooding – this is a clear representation of why tackling climate change is vital. Brilliant suggestions to tackling climate change were made by the students, including:

  • better recycling of plastics and use biopolymers to create plastics that are less harmful to the environment
  • promoting positive practices and educate young people through social media and advertising
  • developing self-sufficient agri-biomes for animal farming to capture methane for it to be converted into energy sources

I was astonished by what the students were coming up with and it really made me think. I have taken the past few weeks to reflect on what was said, and the sheer passion to do something about climate change, which these young people were exuding, has taught me so much. I do not believe our future is at stake because these young people have taught me that everyone can make a difference, no matter the scale.

Engineering can’t be taught through reading books, it needs to be seen in action and students need to be able to experience it, feel it and have a go at it, in a hands-on way. This is what EngineeringUK is working on in order to inspire the next generation of engineers and make sure we all live in a greener and brighter world.

The Schools COP will be broadcast during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 8 to 12 October. There is still a chance for young people to have a say in Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and vote on the proposals put forward. Lesson plans are available on the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week website to help incorporate Schools COP into the school day.

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