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9 November, 2011

Young people call for climate-change education as Chris Huhne tells them 'The clock is really ticking'

Challenged by a roomful of young activists yesterday, Mr Huhne agreed the importance of understanding climate change and working globally to tackle it.

Next month world leaders will meet at the COP 17 Climate Change Summit in Durban, South Africa to agree climate change targets. However, Mr Huhne was not optimistic: ‘We'll not reach a legally binding agreement,' he said.

But the UK is setting a good example, said Mr Huhne.

Climate Change Question Time webcast screenshotThe Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was part of a panel at the Question Time: Climate Change event, which linked audiences of young people in the UK and South Africa.

One of the delegates to COP 17 will be 19-year-old Cat Hudson of the UK Youth Climate Network. She will be travelling to Durban to monitor the impact of their campaign to hold decision-makers to account.

One project setting a good example is the UK Youth Climate Network's One Step campaign. It has collected nearly 2,000 pledges from young people, written on colourful cut-outs of their footprints. Each pledges one thing they will do themselves to help reverse the climate trend.

A member of Uk Youth Climate Network shows her pledge on a footprint

Mr Huhne was given the pledges, and shared his own:

‘Personally I am pledging to continue doing my bit - walking or cycling for as many journeys as possible instead of taking the car, as well as recycling and composting'.

MP Chris Huhne with members of the UK Youth Climate Network‘I am pleased to be supporting the ‘One Step' campaign,' he said, ‘because everyone, both young and old, can do something to tackle climate change.'

‘My department has set the pace by achieving an amazing 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions in 2010.

‘We have saved 547 tonnes throughout the year, the equivalent of five jumbo jets.'

Tehseen Mirza (20) of the Youth Climate Network asked the panel what they would do to educate young people about climate change.

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council and another panellist, replied that education starts at school. In particular he highlighted programmes that link together schools from different countries.

One such programme is Make the Link - Climate exChange, which uses the established citizenship curriculum to help young people engage with climate issues.

The Youth Climate Network is one of several across Europe and Africa, set-up to enable 36,000 young people to share their experiences of climate change.

They hope to hold decision-makers and governments to account by linking their campaigns across developed and developing countries.

Other panellists yesterday were foreign secretary William Hague, South Africa's Ambassador at Large for Climate Change, Nozipho Mxakato-Diskeko and Chief Executive of the British Council, Martin Davidson.

The Youth Climate Network grew out of Make the Link - Climate exChange, a programme from Plan UK and the Citizenship Foundation.

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