One family’s surprise journey

Mike Wilkins, a local St Albans District Resident didn’t know what was ahead of him when planning to attend the 2015 global Climate Change talks in Paris  – he was going in his capacity as the head of environmental and climate research at credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

In April this year the ambitious Sustainable St Albans Week tean decided to ask over 2,000 local residents, adults and children, to write their own message to Amber Rudd MP, the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change – they saw it as a way of linking the local week’s events, on environmental sustainability, directly to the global Climate Change talks.

‘We thought that it might help raise awareness of climate change issues, and give a voice to local young people at these important talks” said  Amanda Yorwerth, local Friends of the Earth organiser and member of Sustainable St Albans team. But the big question was, how would they get the cards delivered?

Eiffeltallbest

Mike Wilkins with wife, Caroline and children, Thoma, 16, and Miranda, 15, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris with the Postcards.

This weekend, with the help of his family, Mike, who was friendly with one of the Sustainable St Albans team,  has taken over 2,000 ‘Postcards to Paris’ in his luggage, and is preparing to hand them over personally to the UK representative at the climate change talks. Over 1800 of these cards are messages written individually by children from 5 – 18 years old; the children have also drawn their own images representing their views on climate change.

From Paris this weekend, Mike commented: “Climate change is a multi-generational issue. It’s a privilege to be able to handover the hopes and aspirations of so many St Albans schoolchildren represented in these postcards.”

With few resources to build the week, the initiative was brought to life by Clare Henry, a local ex-school teacher who worked on a lesson plan for schoolchildren on the Paris talks. Clare used her contacts to work with over 30 schools who helped pupils consider the messages they wanted to send.

This weekend, the Wilkins’ family arrived in Paris ahead of the talks, and have successfully transported the cards. Mike will be handing the cards over on 8th December to a representative from DECC, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, at an event organised by them at The Grand Palais in Paris.

Images of the cards and the messages sent by children can be seen on the Sustainable St Albans Week photo gallery click here. Sustainable St Albans Week was the first ever week about environmental sustainability in the district with over 100 events run by local groups and was funded by The Big Lottery, with additional support from county councillors, and local businesses.

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3 responses to “One family’s surprise journey

  1. Robin Guenier

    Once again, gj, I’m dismayed to see this report: see my earlier comments (https://transitionstalbans.org/2015/12/03/family-friendly-climate-march/#comments). Also I suggest you (and Clare Henry) might read this article – “Why the Paris climate deal is meaningless”: http://www.politico.eu/article/paris-climate-deal-is-meaningless-cop21-emissions-china-obama/. The author’s key message:

    “…the more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be about the plan for Paris.”

    I fear he’s right. And the reason I’m dismayed is that I think it irresponsible to tell little children that really dreadful things will happen if emissions are not cut**. I say that because eventually they’re going to hear that those cuts are not being made – and that’s going to scare them. I’m opposed to scaring little children.

    On a more light-hearted, but still serious, note you may like this – “UN Climate Talks: The Ritual” LINK: http://www.thegwpf.com/content/uploads/2015/11/ClimateCycle.pdf (Scroll to the end.)

    ** See the messages on the cards. For example: “We need to act now because otherwise our world will be destroyed …” (Surely it’s wrong to have told a child that?)

  2. Robin; thanks for your comments: just so everyone understands, no-one told any of the children what to write: teachers in over 30 schools across the district planned their individual lessons on climate change and the talks, and the results were 1800 children writing their cards – including one which describes a new game a child dreamt up racing electric cars against those powered by fossil fuels – not something a teacher created!

  3. “no-one told any of the children what to write”

    That’s reassuring. But nonetheless they must have learned from somewhere that unless we act now “our world will be destroyed” (and other similar sentiments expressed in many of the cards) – a message that is far more scary than much current research suggests. So I do hope that Clare’s lesson plan provided a properly balanced picture.

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