An Interview With … The UKYCC

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What does UKYCC do?

We are a team of massively motivated young volunteers, working with partners across the UK and the world to unite and empower the youth movement into taking action which will influence important decisions – in particular, policies on climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

What have your greatest achievements been?

UKYCC is a facilitator for the UK youth climate movement. Much of our work is quiet, behind the scenes work to link up organisations and build capacity of young people to act. However there are some key achievements:

  • We have sent youth delegations to the UN climate talks every year since 2008, and have had a huge impact which can be read directly in UN policy.
  • 2009 Powershift, a climate conference and training summit for 350 young people, empowered a lot of people to get involved in the UK youth climate movement.
  • In 2011 we toured Europe, training teams of young people in many of countries on how to run Powershift conferences, leading to Powershift events taking place across Europe.
  • The Youth for Green Jobs campaign has begun to define the green jobs agenda and giving evidence to parliament’s energy and climate change committee.

I also hope that some of the events coming up will soon be added to that list!

energy bill image courtesy of UKYCC

What do you do in Southampton?

The local catalyst group brings the larger national UKYCC to a smaller branch in Southampton and the surrounding regions including Romsey and Eastleigh, encouraging different groups in society to work together. Currently the focus is on engaging with students at secondary schools and sixth forms to allow them to understand key environmental issues and the different aspects of climate change.

Why is the group specifically targeted at young people?

The impact of climate change, and the responsibility for mitigating climate change, will fall largely on young people, as well as decisions made by those today.  Therefore young people deserve to have their say right now in the climate change agenda, and should feel empowered to do so.  Policy makers certainly need to look at the bigger picture and consider what the world could be like in the next 20-50 years if we carry on consuming resources at this current rate.  It’s only fair that we get the same resources and opportunities as older generations, and for future generations too. 

Why do we need to do more for the environment?

Whilst Southampton may seem very environmentally-friendly with the numerous cyclists and green parks, there are some key areas still to improve, for example the council could do household glass recycling collections.

I feel there is also a lack of environmental awareness outside of educational institutes. Despite the majority of the population no longer being in education, this can make habits more difficult to change and people don’t see the point in changing. The majority of information to these individuals is through the papers which often promote a gloomy outlook, which often discourages people that they can make a difference.

On a UK basis there are significant regional discrepancies between boroughs, and in the context of the world the UK is well behind France, Sweden and Germany.

I don’t think people are aware of the difference simple actions make to the environment, for example, driving your car instead of taking the bus of walking, or leaving your laptop charger in all day.  The quicker resources are depleted, the higher the cost of living, which can already be seen in commodities such as food and petrol.  Climate change will also have a major impact on the availability of resources which will only accelerate the damage being done. 

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to be affected by changes in the environment. We only have one planet we all have to be responsible for our actions and be prepared to face the consequences.

How can I make a difference?

By being environmentally aware and tuned in to your surroundings.  Pick local products which haven’t travelled far to get here.  Buy things with less packaging.  Reuse everyday items as best you can and recycle what you can’t.  Think about consumption of resources without over doing it!

Join groups which support your environmental ambitions be it the UKYCC or another group at the university or on an international level.

ukycc image courtesy of UKYCC

Do you have to be politically motivated to join?

No, the political side is just one part of the UKYCC aims. By targeting politics we hope to change policy and decisions, but there are lots of other aspects such as sustainability and developing tools for education and skills for employment within this sector.

What’s next?

April- Blackout event for businesses in Southampton
June- Eco Eastleigh.

 How can I get involved?

Contact by email – shareen.elnagy@gmail.com

Via the UKYCC website and twitter

Via facebook group – UKYCC Soton Catalyst Group

Or just turn up to one of our events!

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