Posted on: 26/11/2021

The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 13 November 2021. On Tuesday 23rd November all the pupils and staff of St Helen’s College were fortunate enough to be joined by Raakhi Williams, the aunt of Veer (3MB) and Laksh (1C), who is the Deputy Head of the COP26 Delivery Department with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.  Raakhi spoke to us live from New York,  via Googlemeet, where she is currently based and shared with us her experiences of leading on three major projects as part of COP26.

Raakhi led on the ‘Adaptation - Loss & Damage Day’ at the conference and explained to the children that some of the worst effects of climate change are being felt by  many poorer countries where some of the losses they are experiencing cannot be replaced. She gave us the example of the Maldives where the islands are already sinking and this is not due to anything that the people of this country have done but sadly this is a great loss to the people and the culture of these islands.  It has been agreed that richer countries will support poorer countries to recover  but for some change is not happening quickly enough and this is what many of the protestors who attended the events were protesting about.  

Raakhi then explained that one of her other projects was to organise the safe arrival of 120 world leaders to the World Leaders Summit.  This ranged from ensuring that invitation letters were sent out to the world leaders, trying to minimise the number of people actually travelling to the UK for the summit to organising where Boris Johnson would stand to greet people, where the cars would arrive to etc.  A logistical nightmare one can imagine! Raakhi explained to the children how important it was that people attended the event in person to enable all the discussions and negotiations which took place around the clock to eventually form the ‘The Glasgow Climate Pact’.

The final project which Raakhi led on was the vaccine programme and ensuring that all the attendees were vaccinated prior to the event. Vaccines were sent out to 75 countries who did not have access to the vaccines to ensure that COP26 was as safe as possible. 

Our pupils were given the opportunity prior to the presentation to think of questions for Raakhi and we are delighted that so many pupils posed their thought provoking questions.  Please see below the array of questions put forward by pupils in Year 3 and Year 4.  It would also be super for you to hear from your children and think of the small changes which you may be able to make as a family to assist in this global issue of climate change.  

Questions from Year 3 and Year 4 pupils:

Questions for you personally:

How does it feel being part of something amazing and which may change the world forever?
How many leaders turned up at the event and did you meet anyone famous?
What things have you done to help COP26?
What is the most important thing you have learned working on COP26?
How many people work at COP26 and how long have you worked on the project?

More general questions about COP26:

How can we help make a difference? 
Why can't we start using renewable energy now? 
How can we build up the ice in the Arctic? 
What is the biggest contributor to climate change?
How often does COP happen and how will it help?
Why does everyone travel to COP26?

The Young Poets Network teamed up with People Need Nature to launch a competition for young people on how to imagine solutions to the climate crisis inspired by the natural world. I have linked the website where you can find the winning poems.  We would be delighted if any of our pupils or even parents were able to take the opportunity to write from their perspective on how they imagine solutions to our climate crisis. 

Climate change is real, it is now and in our future and we encourage all families to continue the conversations by trying to understand how other people across the world are experiencing climate change and the role we all can play in protecting our planet.

I am so proud of the work going on at St. Helen’s College already to further educate us all. We hope that next year at COP27 in Egypt we will hear more about the steps which are being taken worldwide and that we all will have made further compromises in our lives to assist. 

Mrs. Drummond