It's Climate Week!

07 Nov 2022

It’s Climate Week! Here’s all about that and what else we’re up to this term.

Coming now or soon:

Earlier this term:

And a little note on why we’re doing all this.

Climate Week

We are very excited to be holding a school Climate week this week. Here’s the run-down of everything that’s going on:

Climate Week poster.jpg Thanks to Ben Collins-Gilchrist for designing this poster.

Net Zero petition

Last time we had a net zero petition, over 600 pupils signed! And yet, we received a pretty unfussed response from the College. Just a few days ago Felix, Dr Clayton, and I were meeting with Mr Thakrar and Mr Leicester-Thackara (Bursar and COO respectively), and they made it clear that they wanted to do more and one reason they didn’t was lack of support from pupils.

Things in the school have changed a lot since two years ago. Now is the time to once again show that Climate is at the top of our priorities. We need to demand action from the College in line with net zero by 2030. The petition will be coming to a preces or lesson near you during Climate Week. Let’s show the school that we absolutely want them to get to net zero!

Full draft text:

We the undersigned ask that Winchester College pledge to protect the futures of their student body by reaching net-zero emissions from its immediate emission sources (energy, travel, procurement, capital investments) by 2030. We ask that:

  • Clear, near-term targets are set.
  • This is an open process involving all members of the Winchester College community with representation for pupils and staff.
  • The College community is kept informed throughout the process.

It is beholden on us as one of the oldest education establishments in the country to lead society rather than follow. In return for the College’s commitment, and whilst recognising that most emissions lie beyond our influence, we pledge to adapt our behaviour as necessary to meet this target.

Elizabeth Project progress

The Elizabeth Project is a tree planting project led by Seb and Felix and they’re beginning this term’s planting in Climate Week. The hope is to get as many people from the school involved as possible, and, now that Mr Rattray’s CS is not available, each extra pair of hands is really appreciated.

During Climate week we will begin preparing the ground for planting later in the term.

Film showing

Monday 18:30-20:45 in the Blackwell room (MobLib).

Equality Society is going to be showing Catching the Sun this evening.

Climate justice is, to me, something which is often much overlooked. It is overlooked when we say that we will all be affected by Climate Change. It is overlooked when the global north emits and is not held responsible for people who die in the global south. It is overlooked when we don’t allow nations to develop their energy systems.

Catching the Sun is a documentary about the growth of the solar power industry and how people are working to use that to create jobs especially in poorer areas. It follows a diverse group of people all interacting with solar in different ways. From unemployed workers in Richmond to a republican senator this film shows how renewable energy makes sense across ideologies and backgrounds.

Fossil power plants are built in areas where less affluent people of colour live. This is intentional, and the air pollution kills people. This is the kind of issue we need to tackle when we say we need a just transition or when somebody advocates for Climate Justice. Just Transition gets thrown around as a solve-all-our-problems buzzword a lot. Catching the Sun is able to move past words and show us how a plan is put into action.

Please join us Monday evening to watch this thought-provoking film.

En-ROADs workshop

Wednesday tutor hour online.

En-ROADs is an amazing tool for modelling the global impacts of Climate policy. It is also full of nuance and useful insights. We are lucky to have Dr Clayton, an En-ROADs ambassador leading a workshop during tutor hour this week.

Fortunately, this is compulsory, but I think this genuinely is something to be excited about. The hardest thing about it has got to be that there is so much more than 30 minutes in a tool like En-ROADs. If you want to spend more time with it, it’s publicly available or come to Sust Soc where we may look at it in more detail in the future.

Mock COP27

Thursday 18:45-20:30 in E2.

We’re working with MUNSoc to hold a mock COP27 right as it’s happening in Egypt. Now I hope some of you reading have sceptical opinions of how much COPs can do, but there are a lot of incredible people who attend them, and an opportunity to hold a mock one is really exciting.

Policymaking exercises like this are always exciting ways to experience reaching compromise and acting with empathy to cooperate with others. We all need to come together to face Climate Change, but that is hard and this kind of event can help us recognise the diversity of perspectives present at COPs. It also might help put into the perspective the impacts of some policies we consider significant. Look out for more on this, but it would be great to have lots of people take part!

Alexander Heavens talk

Friday 19:00-20:00 online.

Alexander Heavens from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby will be talking about Climate Income and CCL on Friday evening 19:00-20:00 on zoom.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is an international grassroots organisation lobbying for countries to adopt Climate Income (a Carbon Fee & Dividend). Alex leads the Scottish branch of CCL. He’s great in his role as lead and always brings an attitude and energy that I really respect. For an introduction to Carbon Pricing and Climate Income, you can read my article about it (part 2 coming soon).

Environmental Committee

During Climate Week (or the week after) we will see the creation of an environmental committee. It will have representatives from all years in each house, who meet each half-term and send one representative to a whole school meeting much like food committees.

I couldn’t criticise a reader for not believing this will do anything - with student councils and societies seemingly springing up all over the place I’d say that’s quite reasonable. However, I think this will be a good place to figure out what changes work best for pupils and to show our support for school action. We are serious about good communication and community engagement in our net zero petition and putting energy into this committee is one way to show that.

WinColl’s sustainability

In the school sustainability survey, people seemed to know very little about what WinColl was doing to be more sustainable. This could certainly make it ring hollow when others ask you to be more environmentally friendly! To help, we’ve organised for the Bursar, the COO, Dr Clayton, and the Sust Soc leadership team (Felix Von-Moltke, Seb Fennel, Oscar Mitcham) to give the whole school a brief talk about what the school is doing, during tutor hour on 16th November.

We wanted to have this during Climate Week, but as there are mocks going on we won’t be able to use New Hall.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing is an evidence-based practice from behavioural psychology which culminates in a method of how to speak to someone in a way which motivates them to make a change. Vince Schutt from Environmentum has offered to give a course on this to us.

We’ll meet each Saturday 18:45-20:30 for the rest of term here:

Vince Schutt is a really engaging speaker and he is teaching a crucial skill taught to doctors, teachers, and activists that you are very likely to find relevant in your own life. This is not an opportunity to be missed!

The Earth Prize

The first deadline for The Earth Prize is coming up near the end of this term. The Earth Prize is an environmental competition for students with a $200,000 prize pool. Jack Pascoe has been organising WinColl’s efforts and, from attending a recent meeting, I’d say we have a decent chance at doing as well as Eton did last year!

If you’re interested, please send Jack (or me) a Teams message and he’ll be able to get you up to speed.

Solar farm plans

The College has leased out some of their land to a solar farm company for 40 years and on 27th September we were able to go on a tour of the site and meet two people from Enso who could tell us about their plans. It was really interesting to speak to Tom and Owen, as they are directly involved in getting solar farms built. I was surprised and interested to hear about the bureaucracy involved and pushback from residents.

National Poetry Day

Sustainability and art came together once again on National Poetry Day earlier this term as the theme was the environment. I cannot stress enough how crucial creating art about the Earth and the environment is to dealing with the Climate Crisis. Facts can only go so far, but art has the power to influence culture and evoke emotions in a way nothing else can. At the end of the day the things that drive me, and I think many others, are not facts, but feelings. Mr Stillman offered an eco-poetry writing workshop, and poems were displayed in MobLib. Mr Methven has also been sharing weekly poems under the general theme of nature and the environment.

Hothouse Earth

Dr Clayton organised for us to head over to Winchester University to hear Bill McGuire speak on the real impacts of Climate Change.

While I think the talk was well told and facilitated, I’ve got to say I don’t see this a way to get people more engaged in Climate activism - which seemed to be Bill’s goal. I don’t see only looking at how everything will be terrible if we don’t act as a good way of reaching out to new people. We need to show them all the incredible opportunity to better the world that comes alongside solving Climate Change. Maybe Bill’s method works for some, and I found it interesting to hear about the various natural tipping points we’re approaching.

Alex Edmans

Felix Von-Moltke, who organised the talk, kindly wrote the following reflection:

London Business School Professor Alex Edmans gave an online Lecture entitled ‘The Power of Purposeful Business’. He critically examined the case for purposeful business, using rigorous evidence and real-life examples to show which strategies work and which don’t.

He grounded his data science and economics with powerful real-world success stories of Corporate Purpose, delivering a talk that was both accessible to audiences unfamiliar with the topic, and engaging for those more familiar with the topic. Although fewer attended than we hoped, he gave a shorter version of this talk as a Ted talk which is available on YouTube (‘The Pie-Growing Mindset’).

Should the UK ban meat?

Well, we had a panel with Widening Perspectives to discuss just that. We held a vote at the end of the discussion and, if I remember correctly, it went 5-6 against banning meat (panel did not vote) with the rest of the ~30 point attending abstaining. That’s a result if you ask me!

The format worked really well and we were able to get across some really important information about morals, Climate and, health. In the panel I came from the angle of health so that Dr Clayton and my positions wouldn’t be too similar. Since then, I’ve been digging more into healthy diets and read How Not To Die over leave-out (which cleanly takes the record for most pages devoted to references in any book I’ve read, at well over 100). It’s great how eating a whole-food plant-based diet is a healthy diet and that that also happens to be what is good for the planet.

UKYP Eco conference

Dev Sharma and other representative from the UK Youth Parliament organised an eco conference in October. About 150 primary school students made it, and there were workshops led by the Final Straw foundation. There were also stalls set up by Greenpeace, the Winchester Greens, and others.

Everything came together on the day to make this work, and I hope it was impactful for some of the children who attended. (I wasn’t able to attend much of the conference, but what I could seemed good!)

But Why?

As a Climate activist I want change now; in fact, I want it yesterday! But I also have to be realistic: the way forward is incremental, but it has already started. That gives me hope.

In Sust Soc what we do splits roughly into two categories: engagement and action. Of course our most successful actions fall into both categories (e.g. the Elizabeth Project). Engagement tends to involve opportunities to improve Climate literacy and get more people involved with Sust Soc. This term is one mostly of engagement for us, with talks and courses, and all this stuff. Our big action this term is the Net Zero petition. This could have a really critical impact. Next term is looking to be much more action focused. There’s been some discussion within Sust Soc about when to time campaigns and where our focus should be, but we’re fortunate in that there are many people involved in different areas so we can do lots at once.

Our Trello with precise planning is publicly available. It only contains a plan for this term and is not final, but it is really useful to look back and see what we’ve been doing.

The IEA’s latest outlook report predicts that fossil fuels actually will peak around 2025! It’s terrible that it took a war for this to be on the table, but it is something to be excited about!

See you next edition,
Oscar Mitcham