Search

Young Islington environmentalist heads out to UN climate summit

16:05 17 November 2012

Sophia McNab

Sophia McNab

Archant

Too many young people today have no interest at all in saving the environment, according to 23-year-old Sophia McNab.

“When I talk about my climate change campaign with my friends,” she says, “they tend to switch off – and I end up having to change the subject.”

Since becoming a student at Edinburgh University five years ago, Sophia, of Mercers Road, Tufnell Park, has made it her mission to try to get her peers interested in environmental causes.

This year, she has been selected as one of seven to represent British youth at the UN’s annual Climate Change Conference in Doha, between November 26 and December 7.

Working with 500 young people from as far afield as the US, the Maldives and New Zealand, the British team will push for changes in climate change policy and discuss ways to get more young people involved.

“This is an amazing opportunity and I’m so happy to be involved,” says Sophia, who has a history degree and now works as a volunteer at the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC).

“In Qatar, world leaders will be negotiating our futures. It’s important that we connect with young people from across the world before and during the summit to push for the progress needed at the talks.”

During her time at university, Sophia worked as production assistant at the social justice film festival Take One Action and was an active member of People and Planet, a student-led environment and human rights action group.

People and Planet campaigns have included a “lie-in” outside a central branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in protest against the bank’s funding of fossil fuel extraction. Dozens of protesters – including Sophia – dressed up as clowns.

However, she admits she was too embarrassed to tell some of her close friends: “It can be quite alienating when you have a passion your friends don’t share.”

She continued: “The economic crisis has been so dramatic and disempowering that it makes young people feel like they can’t have an impact on the world around them.”

While she realises that attitudes are not going to change overnight, she is confident that the issue is being tackled one small step at a time.

“Unfortunately, many people consider talks like this a waste of time – and it’s true not much progress has been made since Rio+20 [the UN’s Sustainable Development Conference held in June this year]. It’s not going to be a revolution, but it’s a step.”

She is confident the young people’s presence will have a positive impact. “We can provide energy and creativity to a process which can otherwise be quite dry and stale,” she insists.

“After all, young people are the ones who have to live with the effects of climate change.

“It can be really frustrating working in the environmental movement and not feeling like you can make an impact. But one of the things that’s so exciting about the UN is that young people are welcomed as part of the process.”

Global agreements, however, are not the only way to make an impact, she believes.

In particular, Sophia would like to see the British government banning fracking – the extraction of shale gas, which scientists have linked to air and water pollution and earthquakes – and investing more in long-term infrastructure such as wind farms as part of the “No dash for gas” campaign.

As one of many thousands of currently unemployed graduates, she hopes one day to turn her campaign work into a paid job and work in an organisation such as Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.

Next year, she plans to get more involved in local environmental groups and start giving talks at schools in Islington.

In March, Sophia will be working as a paid intern at Climate Week, Britain’s biggest climate change campaign.

0 comments

Latest Islington News Stories

Yesterday, 16:17
Islington Gazette: August 31, 1956

A 10-year-old Archway boy was pinned to a wall by a car after a learner driver who was behind the wheel “lost his head”.

Yesterday, 16:09
Warren FitzGerald, author of All in the Same Boat

A Lough Road social worker gave up his career to become an author – and tells James Morris how he uncovered an amazing Falklands War story.

Yesterday, 14:21
Mel Allen, 32, has launched sportswear brand Swaggerlicious

An Islington woman who spent four years in a children’s home has taken inspiration from Olympic athletes to launch her own sportswear brand, Swaggerlicious.

Yesterday, 12:58
Fabric nightclub in Charterhouse Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Farringdon “superclub” Fabric has “strongly contested” claims by police officers that drug abuse behind its doors is widespread – and has proposed a string of changes to its operation to cut the risk of further deaths there.

Tue, 16:40
Jeremy Corbyn gets shown how to fix a cracked phone screen

Jeremy Corbyn took a seat next to some Islington teenagers last week to learn how to fix cracked phone screens.

Tue, 16:11
Arlington Square in Islington. (Picture: Google Maps).

Two teenagers were stabbed in an Islington square on Wednesday night.

Tue, 13:42
Emergency services and displaced commuters outside Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station (Picture: Sam Gelder)

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with attempted murder after a man was stabbed on the platform of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury Overground station on Thursday.

Tue, 13:37
Masjid Al-risaalah mosque and Islington Islamic Centre. (Picture: Google Maps).

A man has been charged with attempted murder after a stabbing outside a mosque in Parkhurst Road last week.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now