Wilmslow High School leads the way on COP-26

On Tuesday 19th October, Wilmslow High School held its very own model COP26 summit. Around 60 lower-school students participated in a series of debates about the climate crisis, chaired by a team of sixth-form leaders. Each team was given a country whose views they would

have to represent; delegates were assisted by sixth-form volunteers in their research and preparation. Throughout the course of the day, everyone could clearly see the scale of the challenges awaiting the world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow.

The conference was opened with a speech from Professor David Hulme of Manchester University about the science of climate change, as well as the politics of fighting it. Professor Hulme outlined some of the potential catastrophic consequences of climate warming, as well as commending the students for stepping up to solve the crisis his generation had failed to prevent. He was met with a warm round of applause at the end, followed by a move into debate; the sixth-form chairs introduced the importance of COP summits with a presentation summarising some of the targets set at the Paris summit of 2015 and each delegation then delivered a one-minute speech about their targets from Paris, their progress, and their aims for the conference. It was here that our teams’ brilliant research, and the massive variety of perspectives to consider – from those who had already achieved carbon neutrality to those who labelled climate change a scam – shone through. Issues that fly under the radar in UK political debates were also brought under the spotlight; nations such as the Marshall Islands and Kenya highlighted the impact of flooding and other extreme weather. The debate that followed these statements focused largely on lower-income countries encouraging high-income countries not only to do more to limit their emissions, but also to support lower-income countries to reach carbon neutrality.

This theme ran through the next debate, which asked countries to consider whether they were willing to do more – above and beyond their current targets – to combat climate change. At each COP, countries are urged to ‘ratchet up’ their targets by setting more ambitious carbon-reduction targets. As may be the case at the real summit, many delegations expressed considerable reluctance to do so for a variety of reasons – these included protestations about the cost, often

coupled with appeals for support from developed economies, and concerns even from higher-income countries that a shift to renewable energies could hurt their economies. However, a series of impassioned arguments – most notably from the team representing Bhutan, who pointed out that they have achieved carbon neutrality in spite of the country’s low income – resulted in a majority of delegations agreeing to push themselves further in the fight against the climate crisis. Whether this sentiment will be reflected at the summit in November by the current generation in charge remains to be seen.

As the day went on, the participants’ presentations were once again invaluable in teaching everyone involved a thing or two not just about the UK’s climate change strategy, but also in widening our knowledge of the challenges the whole planet faces. Each team identified its biggest area of concern – oceans, food and forest, cities, or energy – and fed back to the floor about the dire prognoses in the field and what they proposed should be done about it. An incredible variety of solutions were suggested, from carbon taxes to conservation initiatives and from investment in renewables to international loans and grants from wealthier to poorer nations. Everyone in the room took away a much broader understanding of the ideas of people and governments around the world – whether they agreed or not!

The conference was closed with a debate over a comprehensive resolution our chairs had prepared in advance. Teams amended and debated the agreement until they found it acceptable, once again exposing the gritty negotiating that will be critical in Glasgow. Idealism had to give way to compromise on all sides – concerningly, there seemed to be no way to pass the agreement without pushing back the global carbon neutrality deadline to 2060, by which point global warming could have already surpassed the crucial 1.5° degree tipping point. Although Wilmslow’s conference was only a model, this is reflective of the difficulties world leaders are likely to face in Glasgow in November.

Would Wilmslow’s students have saved the world if this had been the real summit? Maybe not. But the passion of this generation about their future couldn’t have been clearer. When asked what message they wanted to pass on to the leaders ahead of COP26, the underlying answer was this: less talk, more action.

Art Competition Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Wilmslow Festival of Nature Art Competition! and thank you to all the parents and teachers (particularly from St Anne’s Fulshaw and Lindow Primary schools) who encouraged children to take part in our competition, where they were asked to draw or paint what they would like our town to look like in 2030. Thank you also to Brian Donohue, who chairs the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan Group (who are planning for 2030) and artist Rachel Goffredo for judging. We were overwhelmed by the entries, which would give most of our planners and house builders food for thought, and which were featured in Flo Collier’s recent lecture on the House of 2030.

Wilmslow Festival of Nature 2021

Join us at the Oakenclough (Award Winning!) Community Market Garden on Saturday 30th October and at the bike rides and pumpkin trail on 31st. All details on http://www.festivalofnature.co.uk

Next week’s talk is Flo Collier of Humblebee, talking on “The House of 2030” Do join us, booking details on the festival website.

Here’s a flavour of some of the activities we have been enjoying.

Walk with John Handley 16th October

Walk with Professors Chris Jackson and Ernie Rutter 17th October

VIP e-bike rides 21st October

On Yer Bike 23rd October

We are all in it together: Climate Change in low income countries

Huge thanks to Dr Admos Chimhowu, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, who has just given us the most engaging and interesting talk; lifting our eyes from our very narrow UK-centric horizons to look at the way our GreenHouse Gas emissions impact on people across the world. 400 million people in Africa have no access to clean water and that number is set to rise as climate change continues; there is no Shona word for cyclone so people have developed their own phrase of “mad winds” which over the last few years have wreaked havoc. There were some positive stories too, such as development of climate smart agriculture, using no-dig techniques, and using indigenous varieties of crops such as bullrush millet. The impact of Covid has been huge; we in the west were concentrating so much on our own survival low income countries could not complete in the rush for vaccines, drugs and equipment.

When asked what we could do to help, Admos advocated a cultural shift…how we all need to live differently (could we have a “cultural Sabbath” in our town where we have one day where we deliberately use less?) We should push our governments to be more generous in giving towards the mitigation of climate change, support children, particularly to be able to go to school, be compassionate towards other people, and give to the charities you support.

We heard something of the amazing work of Wilmslow Wells for Africa; if you are able to, please donate to wilmslow wells.org.uk or via http://www.facebook.com/wilmslowwells Thank you.

Next week’s talk is Prof Ian Rutherford talking on Peat Bogs: 7.30, Weds 27th October. Zoom links will be circulated.

And…we are off!

Wilmslow’s First festival of Nature is underway! John Handley gave an absolutely fantastic talk entitled Common Ground, the Nature of Wilmslow’s Countryside on Wednesday. 64 people joined the Zoom link and were kept entranced by John’s wonderful talk and beautiful illustrations. The talk highlighted the importance of Wilmslow’s Landscape Character Assessment (which you should read, if you haven’t) and the vital importance of the nature around us for climate action and biodiversity.

The festival will be at the Artisan Market tomorrow, Saturday 16th, near the Rex, so come along and have a chat and find out about the amazing activities we have on offer for you. Make a pledge on our pledge tree: tell us what action YOU are taking for the climate, and make your Wave of Hope picture to influence politicians. We have lots of activities including bulb planting, cinema showings, an Open Day at Oakenclough and of course the On Yer Bike concert. The Mayor of Cheshire East, Cllr Pochin, is coming on our bike rides on the 31st: what questions would YOU ask her about walking and cycling? And of course don’t forget the pumpkin trail on Chapel Lane on 31st October.

If you’d like to bring some soup along to the Oakenclough Day let us know! Look forward to seeing you at our many Festival events. Next Wednesday’s talk is Dr Admos Chimhowu talking on “We are All In It Together: The Impact of Climate Change on Low Income Countries.” Come and hear what impacts the climate change from OUR greenhouse gas emissions is having on people on the other side of the world.

The landscape on our doorstep

Lindow Moss

We had a fantastic Lindow Moss Community Forum meeting last week with John giving us an update on his compartmental pH studies, a recorded piece from Jeff Clarke (the ecologist working for Croghan Peat…you can see his posts and some great photos on twitter @AnserEcology) detailing the reduction lizard numbers (and many damaged tails….is that the impact of dogs?) and a fantastic presentation from Professor Simon Caporn recording his summer plant hunt which he undertook with a number of members of the Forum and some Moss experts. He promises us more next summer!

We know no more about the plans for restoration, but Jeff told us he thought there would be some activity this autumn including removal of the young birch from cut over peat bog. We’ll let you know if we hear any more.

Our favourite books on nature and climate change

Brian Tyler has put together an incredible list of books on climate change and the natural world around us for the Festival of Nature website. The books will be on display in Wilmslow Library where you can order your copy. Let us know what you think of the list, which are your favourites and what has the list inspired you to read? http://www.festivalofnature.co.uk/blog So far our top choice is our very own Sarah Bridle’s incredible book on Food and Climate Change: what’s yours?

Photographs of Lindow Moss

Local resident Joel Norman has taken some absolutely beautiful photos of Lindow Moss.

Check them out at:

https://www.joelnorman.photography/lindowmoss

They are amazing!

We are arranging talks about peat bogs as part of our amazing http://www.Festivalofnature.co.uk together with a deep time walk and a poetry walk on the Moss, and a poetry workshop Giving a Voice to Lindow Moss. John Handley is also organising a Family Walk on the Moss over half term.

Why don’t you come and join us? Book at http://www.festivalofnature.co.uk

Photo by a member of Transition Wilmslow

Could you help us with our Constitution?

We are going to apply to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) so that we can do more things…including we hope employing someone to help with the Community Market Gardens. Please could you have a look at this draft constitution and if you have any comments please forward them to andrew.backhouse@phonecoop.coop by WEDNESDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER. Thank you.