“I was very pleasantly surprised to hear there would be a student climate congress, and it was a distinct pleasure to give the opening address,” said physicist and economist Hermann Held from Universität Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN). “Supplying young people with interdisciplinary information on climate-related issues gives them the tools they need to make better decisions in and for the future – especially when it comes to deciding on policy.”
The CEN and the Cluster of Excellence for climate research CliSAP provided ten further speakers for the event. The geographer Janpeter Schilling presented fieldwork from Kenya illustrating how climate change is exacerbating conflict potentials, while the oceanographer Johanna Baehr explained how ocean currents can shape the global climate.
After lunch break, the schoolchildren had the opportunity to tour the German Climate Computing Center, and to attend their choice of workshops. With the help of the visiting students, Maike Scheffold and Felix Schreyer from CliSAP’s SICSS graduate school staged a mock Climate Change Conference. Since both of the young researchers had attended the latest Climate Change Conference in Paris, they were in an ideal position to share an authentic picture of what international climate negotiations look like.
Rounding out the event, Hermann Held, his CEN colleague Heinke Schlünzen and two further podium speakers addressed questions concerning regional climate change. Under the motto “Hamburg, what next?,” Held invited all citizens to get more actively involved in climate-related issues.
The Student Congress is part of a joint strategy to engage young people launched by the CEN, the Cluster of Excellence CliSAP, and the Initiative for Natural Sciences & Engineering (NAT). Guided by the motto “Climate Change – Prevention or Adaptation?” the participating bodies, working closely together with the NAT’s student council, planned and coordinated the first climate congress for schoolchildren in Hamburg, which was held at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).