2021 waterline summit panel

Climate change education in schools must improve to tackle global threat

Better education into the global threat posed by climate change is needed in schools, experts at the University of Hull have said.

Business leaders, political figures and members of the public gathered at Hull City Hall on Monday 18 October for the launch of the 2021 Waterline Summit.

The audience heard from a panel of experts including Professor Dan Parsons and Amy Meek from the University of Hull, who said improving school curriculums is essential to reduce carbon emissions and meet the UK’s 2050 Net Zero target.

2021 waterline summit panel

With a pledge to become a carbon neutral campus by 2027, the University is a world-leader in low-carbon technology and innovation

Amy Meek is co-founder of the Kids Against Plastics campaign, and is part of the University’s Energy & Environment Institute where she also sits on its International Youth Advisory Board.

She said: “We need better education at school level about the impact of climate change. I remember being at school and being shown two videos – one which said climate change was a man-made issue, and the other denying it. Things have progressed a little since then, but we still need to do more.

“It is so hard to change peoples’ mindsets and behaviours when they reach an older age. Even when you become a teenager, you are harder to influence. We need to be reaching people at an early stage of their lives – the younger you can be informed, the better." Amy Meek

“The youngest people in society really can make a difference.”

The opening event of the 2021 Waterline Summit, titled ‘A Question of Carbon,’ was hosted by former BBC presenter Louise Minchin.

Amy joined a panel of figures which included Liz Barber, CEO at Yorkshire Water, Patrick Harnett, Senior Programme Director at Orsted UK, Dominic Martin, Vice President for Government and Regulatory Affairs at Equinor, and Andrew Reynolds, Project Director at Yorkshire Energy Park.

Also on the panel alongside Amy was Professor Dan Parsons, Director at the University’s Energy & Environment Institute, who echoed the former’s words on climate change education.

2021 waterline summit panel

The audience heard from a panel of experts including Professor Dan Parsons and Amy Meek from the University of Hull

Professor Parsons said: “Education is absolutely vital – sustainability should be embedded into the curriculum, and universities also have an important role to play in that.

“Widening participation at higher education level is crucial, to ensure we are benefitting from the expertise of talented people from all backgrounds.

“I think the single biggest thing we can do is lobby government. We can all play our individual part, but to get systemic change, we need to lobby.

“Climate change is impossible to deny now. You have got the UN declaring a code red emergency. It is like having a bath tub that is 80% full, and we still have the taps on." Professor Dan Parsons

“Eventually, the water will overflow and flood your bathroom. That is where we are heading.”

The University of Hull has in recent years launched a range of degree courses around energy and the environment – including an MSc Renewable Energy programme, an MSc Flood Risk Management course and an MSc in Offshore Wind Energy & the Environment.

The University’s Aura Centre for Doctoral Training also has around 60 PhD students researching with industry on solutions around offshore wind and the environment.

With a pledge to become a carbon neutral campus by 2027, the University is a world-leader in low-carbon technology and innovation.

Find out more about the University’s expertise here.

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