Shifting Power with the UK Youth Climate Movement

As the world’s fight against climate change lies at “tipping point,” Sophie Wainwright discusses how Powershift 2011, the UK’s largest youth event on climate change, aims to empower and inspire young people to take positive action and encourage collective environmental ownership thus working towards a cleaner and sustainable future.

2011 should be remembered as the year when society, and youth in particular, made a collective global noise and stood up for what they believe in. Young people are becoming increasingly active in the shaping of their society and their world, be it standing up for the education system in Chile, protesting for democratic governance throughout the Arab world, or joining forces across the globe to tackle climate change.

The UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC) is at the forefront of the climate change movement, empowering, inspiring and training young people to take positive action. The impacts of climate change, and responsibility to act on it, will fall largely upon the younger generation, and as such, young people must feel able to act and influence the decisions which will shape our lives and our world.

UK Power Shift 2009 (©Robert vanWaarden)

I joined UKYCC in February this year after being inspired by the organisation’s positivity and energy. Their campaigns focus on a positive vision of the future and the path towards it, rather than the doom-and-gloom or shock tactics which seem to have become popular in recent years.

Within the organisation, I am on the PowerShift team as Press and Social Media Officer. PowerShift is the UK’s largest youth event on climate change, and a beacon of positivity in the climate change movement. This October, it will bring together a diverse group of hundreds of young delegates in Manchester, alongside simultaneous PowerShift events taking place in other European cities. The event aims to encourage collective ownership of our future, and make green jobs, a clean environment and healthy lifestyles a core part of it.

Through a combination of talks, workshops, training and storytelling, along with time to socialise and get to know each other, delegates will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to campaign and bring about real change. Following PowerShift, these young leaders will have the opportunity to be part of a national effort to put pressure on the government to act to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.

UK Power Shift 2009 (©Robert vanWaarden)

We are at a tipping point in the world’s fight against climate change. NASA’s top climate scientist says if the KXL pipeline goes ahead and the tar sands of Canada are burned, it will be “essentially game over” for the climate. There are so many challenges ahead, our responses to which will make or break us.

With so much energy in the youth climate movement, and the resources and opportunities available to us today, there has never been a better time to tip the balance of the future in our favour. The time has come for us to demand change from those in power, and take up the challenge to make it happen ourselves.

** Power Shift has unfortunately had to be postponed until Spring next year. Visit our website, follow us on Twitter or join the Facebook event for more information.**


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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