DECC Youth Advisory Panel: Thoughts On Shared Planet

The Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Youth Advisory Panel is a group of around 16 young people from various environmental and youth organisations in the UK, aiming to ensure that the impact on young and future generations are at the heart of decision making by the department. View the original article on our blog.

n.b. the Youth Advisory Panel have now published their report on the future of Britain’s energy, view the article about on the main People & Planet news page.

shared-planet-logoNearly every member of the Youth Advisory Panel was aware¬† of People & Planet’s potent campaigns focusing on climate change and corporate power, translating into tangible success, so when the Youth Advisory Panel were invited to run a workshop at their ‘Shared Planet’ conference, we were¬† quick to take them up on the offer! We used the opportunity both to gain feedback on our work and to hear other points of view on the various topics covered in our then upcoming report.

The conference was opened by leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, who delivered a powerful speech covering many issues of interest to the Youth Panel. Of particular interest was her use of the phrase ‘intergenerational fairness’ – which is very similar, if less binding, to the phrase we have considered key during when carrying out our activities, ‘intergenerational equity’. Her assertion that ‘you can’t have infinite economic growth on a finite planet’ was a key theme throughout the conference. Other notable speakers included Nick Dearden of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Amanda Starbuck of the Rainforest Action Network and Aaron Porter, NUS chairman, who featured on the conference’s closing panel.

This closing panel was of particular interest. It comprised five accomplished activists, including Aaron Porter, chairman of the National Union of Students and ex-People & Planet members, such as Jess Worth, co-editor of the New Internationalist. The panel spoke powerfully and managed to rally the attendees well – but at times seemed overly negative. To me the environmental movement is a very positive one that can bring much benefit to the world, and the importance of taking positive, practical, sustainable action cannot be over-emphasised. This was not something the panel discussed at all – even when I raised this issue of outlook with them – and it may limit the attraction of the movement to new people. Unsurprisingly the debate turned very quickly to the cuts to tuition fees, which Aaron Porter spoke very strongly against – even in the face of criticism to NUS’ approach to negotiating when Labour brought in tuition fees for the first time. We will see whether he keeps the promise he made that NUS would support direct student action and occupations against the fee rise.

Kirsty opening our open space session

The second day was dedicated to a long ‘open space’ session, which was productive for all – and it was here the Youth Advisory Panel ran its workshop. Around 12 people came to hear what we’d been up to and enthusiastically contributed their thoughts on various technologies. Of particular interest was the discussion on biofuel and biomass, where it became obvious that the issue was not as clear cut as many had thought – those who came totally against left with a slightly more open mind, and those who came in favour became critically aware or precautions that must be taken in parallel. The gathering of outside opinions was especially useful to us – especially on controversial issues such as nuclear power – and will most certainly be featured in some way in our report.

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About Thomas Youngman

17 year old activist from Bath, UK. Work within my school (keseag.org.uk), within Bath with Green Vision: The Bath Youth Climate Movement (greenvisionmovement.org.uk) and nationally with the Department for Energy and Climate Change's Youth Advisory Panel.

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