Young People to Advise Government on Climate Change

A new Youth Advisory Panel on Climate Change is working with the government to ensure the views of young people are incorporated into the official processes of creating policy and legislation.

The panel is advising the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on the thoughts and proposals of young people, while also relaying information from DECC out to youth communities.

The 15 members include representatives of youth organisations – such as the British Youth Council, UK Youth Climate Change Coalition (UKYCC), UK Youth Parliament and UNICEF – as well as other engaged youth advocates from the UK. Recognised by DECC as a formal stakeholder in their policy and decision-making activities, views and proposals from the panel must be considered, and when formally submitted, must be responded to.

The work will involve regular two-way consultations, reports from the panel and visits to communities affected by climate change or sites relating to energy supply.

Panel member and UKYCC government liaison officer, Elizabeth Anderson, said the panel allows young people to engage in the energy and climate change debate in a serious and respected way. “It provides a tangible way for a broad range of young people, such as myself, to directly contribute to the formulation of policy, with direct face to face communication with Ministers, rather than through, at best, tokenistic approaches.”

The initiative came about following the build-up to the climate change conference in Copenhagen last year. Young people in the UK made a number of approaches to DECC requesting their views be fed into the negotiations. Without a formalised channel of communication and interaction, they said, there would be situations where their views would be left on the sidelines and closed off from the vastly important decisions being made. The project was approved after a three-month pilot panel was successfully completed. It involved young people that DECC had worked with on the previous government’s 2009 Act on Copenhagen campaign.

The panel became fully operational in July and is contributing to the coalition government’s 2050 Energy Pathways programme, which involves looking at how long-term goals for decarbonisation can be reached.

Energy and climate change minister, Charles Hendry, told Positive News he was impressed by the energy, ingenuity and insight of the youth panel. “Their views on our climate change policies have been invaluable. Even more importantly, they are showing us how to reach out and inspire the many young people across the UK who are very concerned about climate change and want to play an active role in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.”

It is hoped that the system will be replicated in other countries, to ensure young people worldwide have an official stake in some of the biggest decisions that will effect their future.


Related article:
“Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option”
25-year-old climate campaigner Kirsty Schneeberger, shares her vision for thefuture and writes about her work integrating the opinions of young people into national and international decision-making on climate change policy