Youth groups making a difference

Terry Sharp reflects on COP26 and highlights the passion of the younger generations in being key to combatting climate change.

Unless you have been living under a rock or on board a space station you will have found it quite difficult to miss the coverage of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) that took place in Glasgow at the start of November. The overriding aim of the COP26 summit was to bring international parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Speaking at the event were world leaders, including Boris Johnson and Joe Biden, as well as HRH the Prince of Wales, legendary environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, and Mike Berners-Lee, author of bestselling book ‘There Is No Planet B’. While the famous names might well have grabbed many of the headlines, it is perhaps the passionate voices of the youth from the conference that we should be devoting more time and attention to. After all, it is their generation who will be inheriting the planet we inhabit. There is no denying huge and potentially costly mistakes have been made by previous generations but it is imperative that we do what we can now to leave it in the best state we can for them to have something to build on.

COP26 and its aims and objectives captured the minds of many, but the young generations are more alert than most when it comes to tackling the issues of climate change. The summit was just the latest in a range of youth events and conferences across the world, including the Youth4Climate Summit Milan in September and the 16th UN Conference of Youth (COY16). Also at COP26, YOUNGO, the Official Children’s and Youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), presented the COY16 Global Youth Position statement, representing the views of over 40,000 young climate leaders from across the world. The statement presented their priorities directly to Ministers, including action on climate finance, mobility and transportation, through to wildlife protection conservation.


Green careers

What is pleasing is that many young people appear keen to back up their words with action by wanting to take up jobs that will be in some way or other beneficial for the environment. In a survey conducted to coincide with Earth Overshoot Day in August 2020, 57 per cent of people aged 18-34 said they would prefer to work for an environmentally sustainable business, while green jobs, including those in renewable energy, ranked 10 per cent more attractive than being a social media influencer and eight per cent more attractive than working in retail. Working in the fossil fuel sector was the least attractive sector, with just six per cent of those surveyed saying they would like a career in it.

The building controls sector itself has plenty of rewarding careers of its own for the environmentally-conscious school leaver. Energy efficiency in buildings is one of the biggest factors affecting climate change and the building controls sector has a vital role to play in creating a greener built environment. I am therefore delighted to see the first two programmes of the BCIA’s BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship have been fully booked up, and feedback from some of the apprentices has so far been very positive.

Jake Jarram, BEMS Apprentice at Building Controls Specialists Ltd, said: “I have been very impressed with how well structured the modules are in the BCIA course I am completing. The lecturer is very experienced and skilled in the industry, showing a very positive outlook on HVAC and is very keen to pass on their knowledge.

“When working day-to-day for BCS I have developed a great variety of skills which are invaluable to someone of my age, working in various places and contributing towards the completion of the project/maintenance. I am looking forward to my future in the building controls industry.”

Jake’s words echoed those of Zach Stanley, BEMS Apprentice for Kendra Energy, who recently described his experience so far in a short blog, which can be read here.

With more apprentices like Zach and Jake to come the building controls sector will hopefully continue to do its bit for environmental sustainability well into the future.