Archie Young visit brings COP into focus

COP27 is headline news right now, as the latest UN climate change conference gets under way in Egypt. However, UCS pupils were fortunate to gain an early insight into the challenges of international climate diplomacy when Archie Young, the UK’s lead climate negotiator, visited the school to speak about his experiences in this crucial sector.

As an Old Gower, Archie was delighted to accept the invitation to return to Frognal and inspire pupils of all ages, discussing his journey from UCS – where he attended from 1989–1998 – to a prominent place on the international stage. He was lead negotiator at last year’s ‘home’ COP26 conference in Glasgow.

The UCS connection helped pupils relate immediately to Archie, and his lunchtime visit, which took place on 31st October, focused student minds on the urgency of international climate policy as well as climate justice.

Year 12 pupil Jack Harding said: “It was great to receive an insight into the negotiations that occur and the complications that arise from getting people with contrasting backgrounds to unanimously agree on solutions to solve a global problem. This is usually achieved through a combination of resilience and determination.”

Members of the school’s sustainability lobbying group, Green Impact Society, are closely following the COP27 summit and will be discussing how pledges made internationally later play out at local level. The climate crisis is certainly one of the defining issues facing this generation, and through the efforts of Green Impact, UCS ensures that pupils are engaged in action and equipped with the necessary information.

Pupils have monitored the school’s energy usage, recycling percentages and air quality, affording them greater agency and ability to lead the continuous improvement of the school’s environmental footprint. Their latest project, coinciding with COP 27, is a competition across all three UCS Foundation schools – Senior School, Junior Branch and Pre-Prep – to see which can reduce its energy consumption the most through behavioural changes.

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