Stonyhurst College hosts student climate conference of Ribble Valley schools CORVS1
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Organised by the Ribble Valley Climate Action Network (RVCAN), students listened to expert policy-makers and climate scientists, debated sustainability and climate issues, and discussed changes they could make in their own school communities.
The lead organiser for CORVS1, David Rawkins, said: “Given climate change will affect us all, it is vital that younger people are engaged in the policy issues and feel empowered. Our pupil delegates were eager to understand not only the challenges we face, but also how they can make a difference.”
Students from Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Ribblesdale High School, Bowland High School, Pleckgate School, St Cecilia’s School, Oakhill College, and St Augustine’s High School all took part in creating pledges to tackle environmental issues in their own schools.
Karen Pugh, staff delegate from Oakhill College, said: “I was inspired by the pupils’ ideas and enthusiasm after hearing the speakers. There was a shared sense of mission.”
Clitheroe Grammar School pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2028 by reducing their energy consumption and investing in a new heat pump; Stonyhurst College pledged to build bee hotels on campus to increase local biodiversity; and Pleckgate High pledged to implement ‘Meat Free Mondays’ at their school canteen.
Kira von Wieler, pupil delegate from Stonyhurst, said: “It greatly inspired me how students and teachers from different schools were able to come together as a Ribble Valley community with the same aim, addressing the most vital issue to us all.”
Local environmental groups hosted stalls profiling local climate initiatives that the pupils could get involved with.
Sarah-Jayne Clarke, staff delegate from St Augustine’s High School, said: "This has been a wonderful opportunity for pupils to hear first-hand about sustainable projects that are ongoing in our region and how we can all work to together to try to reduce our environmental impact, individually and as communities.”
The keynote speakers – Miranda Barker OBE, an environmental consultant and Chief Executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce; and Stephen Sykes, the Chamber’s Director of Sustainability – shared their insights from their attendance at COP 26 and COP27, as well as the green initiatives underway in Lancashire, such as developing sodium batteries and recycling nappies.
Tom O’Doherty, pupil delegate from Bowland High school, said: “It made me realise just how much more and how much of an impact our school can make to improving the environment.”
Jack Spees, Director and CEO at the Ribble Rivers Trust, spoke to students about using salmon and trout numbers as indicators of water health, and how vegetation on the Ribble’s banks act as crucial barriers to both increasing water temperatures and the increasing risk of flooding.
Leanne Billington, staff delegate from Ribblesdale High, said: “It was a fantastic, inspirational and thought-provoking day – attendees of a range of ages were keen to implement small changes that can make a big difference.”
Following the success of this year’s conference, the CORVS conferences are set to become an annual gathering expanding to more schools across the region from 2024.