Around 100 secondary school pupils from 4 schools across Winchester came together with 27 Sparsholt College students on Tuesday 20th October at Sparsholt College for a conference on climate change and the importance of cutting our carbon dioxide emissions organised by Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC).

How often do you think about climate change whilst eating your lunch? The point was to get participants to understand the link between climate change and what we eat, as deciding what to eat is something over which young people have some choice and control.

The most popular activity was a tour of the pig unit on the college farm (see picture) which was part of working out the carbon footprint of a bacon sandwich.

Other activities were building a model hydrogen fuel cell car, and working out their own carbon footprints online. Having discovered how many tonnes of CO2 their households emit per year, participants were asked to write a three point pledge on a self addressed postcard to say what they are going to do to reduce their own carbon footprint. 

The result was more than 30 different personal actions that would make a difference ranging from walking, cycling and using public transport, to switching off standby, using low energy light bulbs, eating more sustainable food choices and flying less.  The pledges will be posted back to them in 6 weeks time as a reminder.  As an incentive for doing this, the first two pledges pulled from a hat will be sent a £50 voucher to spend at Hargroves Cycles, who kindly contributed to this prize,  and a third lucky winner will get a SMART energy meter.

The chairman of WinACC, Robert Hutchison, says ‘It is encouraging how positively teenagers respond to doing a carbon footprint calculation.  This is one of the keys to understanding the scale of the challenge that lies ahead of us and to identifying the solutions needed.’