Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

'Why I'm taking part in the youth alternative to COP26'

Chingford student Ewan explains why he's taking part in the borough's Young People's Climate Summit

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Chingford student Ewan

I worry about the future of our precious planet. For people my age, there’s no issue more important than taking care of the world we live in.

That’s why I am taking part in the Young People’s Climate Summit, a borough-wide event for school and college students that begins on Monday. The event was organised by young activists, the Suntrap Forest Centre and Waltham Forest Council and will run at the same time as the UN climate change conference in Glasgow, when all eyes will be on the UK to see what happens next. Our summit has an exciting agenda with inspirational speakers, resources for young people to use at school and local learning opportunities to encourage and motivate young people to get involved in climate action. 

The biggest way I personally try to help out the environment is by not eating meat. I am a passionate vegetarian, partly because I care about animal welfare issues, but also because meat-free diets can help reduce our carbon footprint. 

According to a study by the University of Oxford, a vegan diet could be the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your environmental impact on earth. Its impact is even greater than reducing flights or swapping to an electric car, although these are still good options too! If everyone stopped eating meat it would free up land which is otherwise lost to farming, which is one of the main reasons many species face extinction, and we would instead be able to plant more trees and grow our forests. 

If schools and hospitals embraced plant-based diets, making them seem more normal and affordable, this could bring about huge changes, both on a local level and for the planet as a whole. Even for those who can’t go totally meat-free, eating a vegan diet for three days of the week would still be a huge help. 

I’ve learnt a lot so far by being involved in planning the Climate Summit and we’ve had some really interesting conversations about issues such as ethical fashion and sustainability generally. We’ve talked both about what we can do to help the planet and what our council can do. It’s really rewarding to be engaged in the process that will hopefully bring about a change for good.  

Following COP26, I’m really hoping that big steps are taken to bring about the significant changes so desperately needed right now. We must act to help the future of humans, all other species and the planet itself.

The Young People’s summit begins on 8th November. For access to all the resources click here.