Two sixth form students from Ron Dearing UTC shared their winning climate change ideas with a high level audience from energy industries at COP26.
Catherine Crees and Jaden Taylor won The Waterline Student Challenge 2021, organised by Marketing Humber, which secured them a trip to the global United Nations climate change conference recently held in Glasgow.
As the “Sustainability Crew”, Catherine and Jaden had to plan and deliver their own eco project and find sustainable climate change solutions as part of The Waterline campaign.
They carefully researched and calculated how students and staff could offset their carbon footprints by cycling to school rather than driving or using public transport, which led to their peers and teachers changing their travel habits and the need for the school’s bike shed to be expanded.
Catherine and Jaden, both 17, were invited to attend and speak at a special COP26 fringe event as part of their prize, sharing their project and ideas with high level invited guests.
Catherine said: “I got a real insight into the future of sustainable energy generation, the complexity that we face and the new and emerging technologies that will help us achieve the goal of net zero.
“It was also great to hear how much the Humber is integral to the reduction of carbon for the UK.”
As part of their wider project ambitions, Catherine and Jaden also hope to spend their £2,500 prize money on planting a tree for every Ron Dearing UTC student past, present and future in Hull city centre. Talks are underway with Hull City Council to assess the possibilities, supported by further investment from the employer-led school.
Catherine and Jaden will also receive a behind the scenes VIP experience with a supporting business, providing an insight into potential sustainable career opportunities available to them in the future.
Jaden said: “I really enjoyed being part of the project. COP26 was so interesting and enjoyable, and we found out that capturing carbon and storing it underground can really help the environment.
“There were so many spotlights on us while we were on stage talking about our work. It feels good to know the work we’re doing is meaningful and we couldn’t have had a better platform to share it with others.”
Catherine and Jaden travelled to Glasgow with Ron Dearing UTC Senior Assistant Principal and Head of Engineering Glenn Jensen and Lisa Regan, the school’s Assistant Principal for Professional Qualifications.
Glenn said: “It was really interesting to hear more about carbon capture and the future of energy in the UK.
“It was also a fantastic opportunity to be in the same room as so many influential people from energy generation companies and hear what they had to say about what the transition to net zero looks like.
“For Catherine and Jaden to have that stage presence and talk in front of such a high level audience was amazing and great for their developmental skills.
“The Humber was mentioned heavily throughout our time at COP26, which shows the huge part our region has to play in making a difference.”
The Waterline Student Challenge 2021 was sponsored by SSE Thermal and Catherine and Jaden were named winners from six shortlisted teams.
Entries were judged by representatives from SSE Thermal, KCOM, Associated British Ports (ABP), Yorkshire Water, Ørsted, and Willerby, as well as guest judges from the University of Hull and the Zero Carbon Humber project.