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Young climate activists are making mark this Climate Week

Posted on 29 Sep 2023

With COP28 now on the horizon, North Ayrshire Young People’s Champion, Councillor Chloe Robertson recently caught up with the Council’s Climate Change Ambassadors (CCAs) to find out about how they are helping local young people to tackle climate change issues such as plastic, pollution and biodiversity.

Made up of young climate activists, the seven-strong team of young people  - aged between 12 and 25 - first joined forces back in 2021 ahead of Glasgow’s COP26 climate change summit.

Passionate about climate change, the team have been working within their schools and collaborating with community groups as well as volunteering with local environmental groups to raise awareness of biodiversity, carbon emissions and other climate issues where young people can do their own part to make a difference.

Formed by the Council’s Youth Services team, the group is supported by NAC’s Energy and Sustainability team, with one goal in mind – to tackle climate change in North Ayrshire, once and for all.

Councillor Chloe Robertson, North Ayrshire Young People’s Champion commented: “This week is Climate Week and I am proud that we are lucky enough to have Climate Change Ambassadors who are passionate about making a difference and making their voices heard to build a better, cleaner and greener world.

“The Climate Change Ambassadors are a fantastic example of #youthparticipation where our young people are having a strong and active role in their communities.

“I’ve learnt a lot from them. The team have such an impressive wealth of knowledge when it comes to climate change. With our Climate Change Ambassadors at the helm, I have no doubt that we will have great hope for the future.”

Councillor Tony Gurney, Cabinet Member for Economy and Climate Change, commented: “Climate change is the focus of global discussions at COP28 and sadly remains an issue that will continue to have a detrimental impact on future generations, unless we act immediately. It is only right that we as a Council do all that we can to support youth initiatives like our Climate Change Ambassadors.

“By continuing to encourage them and provide them with support to deliver the awareness activities they are so very passionate about, the Council is committed to amplifying the voice of this inspirational team of young climate activists so that they can help to educate even more of their peers via school Eco Committees, youth groups and out in the community.

“Their contribution will then hopefully influence others to make their own positive choices when it comes to tackling climate change.”

The original group were formed through work initiated by national youth information charity Young Scot, Keep Scotland Beautiful and YouthLink Scotland, since then the voluntary Climate Change Ambassadors have been working collaboratively since COP26 to ensure young people’s voices are at the forefront of local, national, and global decision-making on climate change.

Before then, the group engaged in a series of online climate emergency training seminars accredited by the Scotland Carbon Literary Project.

And over the last two years, they have been at the forefront of helping the Council to deliver a series of biodiversity awareness sessions to schools and other young people – an important part of the job, contributing not only to the Council’s Youth Participation Strategy but also supporting the Council’s ambitious target of having net-free carbon emissions by 2030.

The Ambassadors have also received £5,500 from the Scottish Government* to go towards a series of climate change awareness activities throughout North Ayrshire.

Newest recruit Dylan Husband said: “I have been a Climate Change Ambassador volunteer since before the summer after being encouraged by my fellow ambassador Andrew.

“We are using Climate Week to shout-out loud about the need for more young people to get involved.

“North Ayrshire Council is committed to the climate emergency, and this is proven by the progress already made as part of the Climate Change Strategy, however we are acutely aware that much more necessary and immediate action is needed, to build a better and brighter North Ayrshire, free from carbon emissions.

“We care deeply about building a lasting, green legacy for future generations, and although we have been making good progress, we can’t do it alone.”

Ambassador Andrew McNeil from St Matthews Academy said: adds: “In the summer we had a number of successful beach cleans however as the dreich weather rolls around earlier than usual (in part of course due to global warming, our main goal will be working with schools and young people to make everyday changes that will make a real difference. Stay tuned to Youth Services social media for more on this…

“We are also looking forward to meeting with the new Scottish Youth Parliament members to ensure that they have eco-awareness and the circular economy high on their agenda.

“Joint Cabinet will also be back again in November so we’ll be sharing our input there and are keen to team up with the new Make and Mend Hub which has launched in Kilbirnie Library and the uniform and prom clothing swap shop over at Auchenharvie to help raise awareness of the impact of fast- fashion and what can be done to tackle the problem and prevent items going straight to landfill unnecessarily.

“We would be thrilled to have more young people to come on board in our fight to save the planet. Although North Ayrshire is only once piece of the puzzle, the actions taken will be far-reaching across the globe for others to follow in our footsteps.”

​If you would like to join the Climate Change Ambassadors, get in touch with Youth Services.

If you would like to get involved in youth work, get in touch via social media, on Twitter (@NAYouthServices), Facebook (North Ayrshire Youth Work) and Instagram (@NAYouthServices)

So far, the Climate Change Ambassadors have used the £5,500 Scottish Government funds, distributed via YouthLink Scotland to:

  • Facilitate a climate change Bee Bomb making workshop
  • Designed, commissioned and produced their own branded Climate Change Awareness hoodies so the members are visible at community and public events;
  • Organised a residential trip to Arran Outdoor Centre in November 2022 where the CCAs and MSYPs will co-develop their own strategy on food sustainability for community groups and support the Council’s network of food larders and breakfast clubs to create their own grown-on-site food supply;
  • Bought litter pickers and community cleaning equipment to help community and environmental groups with voluntary litter-picking sessions throughout North Ayrshire.

​Future aspirations include:

  • Developing workshops with local Scouts to perfect resource materials on climate change awareness;
  • Working with community groups including the Youth Forum and Community Larders to share best-practice when reducing waste and becoming more sustainable;
  • Developing workshops for primary school-aged pupils to hopefully encourage them to become Climate Change Ambassadors too;
  • Sharing best practice and learning from other local authorities who have kept their COP26 Climate Change Ambassadors going in the hope to build a carbon-free Scotland for all within the next decade;
  • Teaming up with Eco Committees in primary and secondary schools to challenge poverty and reduce waste by supporting uniform swap sessions, promoting local growing and creating new workshops on issues such as fast-fashion and encouraging the use of public transport (e.g under 22 free bus travel scheme)