Reading Pupils Call for Action on Climate Change

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Pupils from six Reading Catholic primary schools gathered together in the Council Chamber last night for the CAFOD Primary Public Speaking Final – and what a night it was!  

Teachers, parents and pupils from English Martyrs, St Martin’s, Christ the King, St Paul’s and St Dominic Savio and St Joseph’s College Prep heard the finalists call for action on climate change and share their personal pledges to live more sustainably. The talks focussed on the question, ‘One Climate, One World – Why should everyone be bothered?’

As many of the finalists stated, climate change is the single biggest threat to reducing poverty and it’s affecting the lives of millions of people in many countries around the world right now, whether it’s typhoons or floods destroying entire communities, or unpredictable seasons for farmers leaving millions hungry. They also explained that climate change is changes in the climate caused by human activity (such as burning fossil fuels) beyond what we’d expect to see naturally. These changes can lead to more extreme weather such as floods or droughts (as explained in the short film produced for primary schools below).

As one pupil stated, 90% of people who die in natural disasters live in the poorest countries. It’s the poorest people, with the least safety nets, and who are least responsible but suffer the most from the effects.  Another student told us that the world’s developed countries have caused most of the pollution that’s brought climate change about and ‘changed the natural balance’.  It is ‘undoing years of CAFOD’s work’ another added.

Faced with this huge challenge, the finalists told us ‘we all have a responsibility to look after God’s creation’ as what is happening ‘goes against God’s plan’.  ‘We’re meant to be stewards of this world – not destroyers.’

Two students quoted the President of the World Bank who stated that ‘if we don’t confront climate change, we won’t end poverty’ with one adding that ‘if we do nothing, we risk sleepwalking into a crisis.’  But alongside calling for action, each speaker had very clear ideas about what we can all do to help.

One student outlined CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign which calls on all political leaders to work together to prevent climate change pushing people deeper into poverty and support the transition from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable energy for all.

Others were passionate in calling on us all to change our ‘wasteful habits’ and use less energy in our day to day lives. As they explained, most of the energy we use every day is generated from coal, oil and gas and pollution from these types of energy is the biggest contributor towards climate change.

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As the speakers said ‘we all have a role to play’ in reducing our carbon emissions. Ideas included  walking more, making fewer trips in our cars, wasting less, buying less, ensuring the buildings we use are well insulated, using sustainable energy, even powering local schools with solar energy.

‘Have a look when you get home and see how many things are on stand by and how many lights are on. Can you turn things off? If your Dad moans, tell him not only is it saving the world, it will save him money. He’ll be happy!’

One pupil also said, ‘If you’re concerned about this, write a letter yourself to your local politicians to let them know and ask them to do all they can too!’

Go young people of Reading!!!

Boy oh boy – did our judges have a tough time scoring everyone!  All our finalists were excellent! Well done everyone!   Our judging panel this year included the Mayor of Reading, (Councillor Tony Jones), Lead Councillor for Education and Children’s Services (John Ennis), Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (Victoria Groulef) and former Headteacher (Julia Feeney).

Organiser of the event and CAFOD Education Volunteer, Linda Heneghan said,

“Year on year I am so impressed by all the young people and extremely humbled by their contributions, confidence and conviction. Young people need their voices to be heard; they are certainly going to be thoughtful and caring citizens of tomorrow. Isn’t it awesome to see what our primary school pupils can do? I know I wouldn’t have been able to get up and speak with such confidence and ease in front of such an auspicious gathering at that age!”

Congratulations to everyone who took part!   They all did so well and really, as one of the judges said, they are all winners!  Special congratulations go to our overall winner from St Paul’s primary this year and to St Joseph’s Prep for being the school with the highest amalgamated scores.  We are very grateful indeed to all our judges who were all wonderful and all the parents and teachers who helped the finalists with their talks and gave them such fantastic support on the night.   My personal thanks though of course goes to Linda Heneghan – our marvellous volunteer – without whom none of this would take place.  Thank you Linda!

For more information on CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign please click here.

Information and resources for primary schools on climate change and the environment can be found here.



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