Climate crisis: South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis says ‘we must put our faith in younger generations’ at schools’ conference

South Yorkshire’s mayor Dan Jarvis gave a keynote speech at a region-wide schools’ conference on climate change.
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Thousands of pupils from primary and secondary schools across the region came together for a three-day online event run by the Schools’ Climate Education South Yorkshire (SCESY) last week.

It featured dozens of live and pre-recorded workshops from a variety of organisations and speakers including Foodworks, on how to upcycle quality surplus and locally grown ingredients into food and drink, and Project Drawdown, on how everyone can contribute to tackling the climate crisis by a leading research group based in the USA.

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Climate change: South Yorkshire school children gather for three-day climate con...
Dan Jarvis, mayor of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, gave a keynote speech for the Schools' Climate Conference.Dan Jarvis, mayor of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, gave a keynote speech for the Schools' Climate Conference.
Dan Jarvis, mayor of South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, gave a keynote speech for the Schools' Climate Conference.
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In pre-recorded keynote speech, Mr Jarvis said: “I often think about climate change and its effects on children. Nothing is more important than protecting our planet and your future.

“It is when we adults look at the world through the eyes of your generation, that we see some of the most important challenges we face.

“I believe that we must put our faith in younger generations. You will have seen the very real impact that young people, like you, can make when they are passionate about reshaping the world around them.

“You just need to look at Greta Thunberg who said: ‘You are never too small to make a difference.’

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“But what can you do to make a difference? Well, walking, scooting or cycling to school can help make the air where we live cleaner and easier to breathe. What you choose to study later in life, to do the clean, green jobs of the future.

“Or the questions that you can ask of the adults in the room, your teachers, parents and carers and friends around you. And even who you vote for when you’re old enough.

“But it’s never too soon to think about the changes you and I can make.”

Anne Bladen, teacher and schools administrator at SCESY, said fear of climate change is impacting a “staggering” amount of young people, with a global survey last year showing that nearly 60 percent of young people feel very worried or extremely worried about it.

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She said: “We, at Schools Climate Education South Yorkshire, are very concerned about this. And we know that the best way to address anxiety is to empower young people to do something about the situation. In our conference we have sought to provide young people with information, ideas, and inspiration on all the different aspects of climate change, and show how they can be the ones that turn things around.

“What we have created is something quite unique, and many schools and organisations outside South Yorkshire have shown significant interest. The beauty of our online conference is that it is ongoing: schools can dip into it whenever they choose and tailor the sessions to their pupils. They could devote an afternoon to a mini climate conference, or, as some schools are doing, could devote an entire fortnight to climate-themed lessons. Our teacher resources booklet that accompanies the conference shows that climate change is not a separate subject, but a theme that weaves through every aspect of the school curriculum.”