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BBC's 'Talking to Children about Climate Change' Session

On the panel was Cheryl Taylor, Matt Winning, Christy Harrison and George Marshall.

Seven children from Clarendon Road Primary School were also present, all of whom were involved in the school’s eco council and had been working hard to get their messages of climate change across on Blue Peter.

Head of content for BBC children’s, Cheryl Taylor, expressed how the BBC and CBBC are focusing on climate change with programmes such as ‘Millie goes Green’, Newsround and various art shows concerned with recycling materials.

The main point raised here was that the issue of climate change should be communicated responsibly to children. They should not feel daunted or overwhelmed by the problem.

“It’s not all doom and gloom," says Cheryl. "It’s important to show the positive ways kids are getting involved”.

Matt Winning, Climate Change Comedian and environmental economist began proceedings by providing an overview of the greenhouse effect – what causes it and its impacts e.g. extreme weather events. He also highlighted what we can do as individuals to make a difference e.g. recycle more within homes and change ordinary light bulbs to energy saving ones.

Christy Harrison, TV Wildlife presenter, then focused on the years she spent in Borneo doing conservation and rehabilitation work with Orangutans.

Having experienced first-hand the extent of the flooding problems and growing demand for palm oil which impacts their habitat (80% of the rainforest has been cleared in the last few years), returning to the UK as a teacher’s assistant she felt compelled to communicate the importance of these issues to children. Her passion and commitment was evident.

The final speaker was Climate Change Communicator, George Marshall. He is the founder of Climate Outreach, an organisation that has undertaken significant research around young people (18-25 year olds) and how they engage with climate change.

Their research findings show that many avoid talking about climate change as they feel it’s ‘uncool’ and can come across as being ‘preachy’.

Another finding was that women under 25-years talk the least about climate change.

His message was that we need to stop talking about climate change as an “environmental issue” for environmentally minded individuals, or “greens” as this excludes people.

“It is so important to get the message across that climate change is everything and for everyone,” explains George.

George has found that best way to communicate the importance of acting on climate change is to get people to act together (not individually), share positive stories and he firmly believes that empowering children and young people to stand up for their future is key to all of this.

Finally, Q&A’s gave the children an opportunity to ask questions. The session ended with participants being handed green Blue Peter badges for all their hard work.

Main image by Paul Heart, used with a Creative Commons licence.

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