Newry, Mourne and Down District Chairperson, Councillor Cathy Mason was delighted to welcome a delegation of pupils from schools across the district to council offices in Newry and Downpatrick this week. The pupils presented her with their ‘Leaf Pledges’ on climate change in the hope that the Council will work together with them in the fight against climate change to become net zero by 2050.
The Eco-Group at Down High School, Downpatrick are passionate about engaging young people in Newry, Mourne and Down District to have a voice in creating a greener future in our local community. Inspired by the recent Climate Change COP26 Conference in Glasgow, which brought world leaders together to help accelerate action towards climate change targets, the pupils developed the ‘Leaf Pledge Project’. This was an initiative originally started by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), in which young people share their personal pledge to the planet, a promise which they want World leaders to also pledge. The aim is to send a message to world leaders that young people are ready to fight against climate change and they need them to step up and do their bit to protect our future.
Down High school adapted the WWF leaf pledge idea to include the pledges they would like their local council, instead of world leaders, to make, regarding climate change. This project was promoted across all schools in the Council area, with a huge number of schools becoming actively involved. The schools used the initiative to educate pupils on the Climate Crisis during the COP26 Summit fortnight.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Chairperson, Councillor Cathy Mason said, “I am excited to receive these climate ‘Leaf Pledges’ from our young people here today. Council recognises climate change as a serious threat to our way of life and has declared a climate emergency. We are currently working across departments to develop a Climate Adaptation Plan to provide resilience to the impacts of climate change including flooding, droughts, storms, and sea level rise. We are also working in partnership with other organisations and the local community to reduce our carbon footprint and our impact on the environment. Listening to the voice of our youth is incredibly important, as climate change will impact the future generations of our community.”
Rachel Wilson, Down High School Teacher said, “This project has given pupils a platform to voice their concerns about climate change. It has also demonstrated how working together collaboratively across the district can result in positive outcomes for everyone”.