Thursday 23 November 2023

OVER 80 pupils aged between 16-18 from Welsh schools played the part of politicians, journalists and lobbyists today, Thursday 23 November, to debate on the climate crisis.

They were taking part in the British Council’s Schools Connect, COP28 Climate Simulation Negotiation at the Senedd and had the opportunity to find out what it’s really like to negotiate a global climate deal. Delivered in partnership with the Wales Centre for International Affairs (WCIA), this debate was the first time the British Council event has come to Wales, in a series across five UK cities.

The event kicked off with a keynote address from Jane Harries, Peace Education Manager at WCIA, with the debate taking place in the run-up to the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates which starts on November 30.  

During the negotiations, the pupils had to agree on a global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to successfully reduce global temperature rises to no greater than 2 degrees C, making sure that all countries were on target to reduce emissions by 2030. To do this, they used computer software developed by Climate Interactive and MIT to create a real-life climate debate simulation.

The negotiations were led by Dan Boyden and Dr Caroline Wainwright, lecturer in climate change at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University.

Attending the event students Francesca Cawley and Riaz Ali Hulston of Howell’s School Llandaff shared the role of the United Nations Secretariat General.

Francesa said about the experience: “Today our aim was to reduce greenhouse emissions drastically and we didn’t quite reach our target of under 2 degrees for warming. While we were able to work together and compromise, we realised just how much work and effort is needed to reach consensus.

“Today we’ve seen negotiation is super difficult but not impossible, and it will be interesting to see what happens at COP28 in Dubai. It was great also to connect with schools from Egypt, to hear about their experience during COP27 and to get an insight into the different issues affecting them”.

Riaz added:This debate simulation was valuable in that it gave all of us a comprehensive picture of the wholistic decisions that need to be taken, considering all factors such as poverty, education and rural decline. We still managed to reach agreement to fund $100 billion in climate financing per year globally, which was a big win. At 2.1 degrees, we will see dramatic increases in climate change. Today gave us just a flavour of what is possible, and it is progress, but not our final destination”.

Speaking at the event, Dr Wainwright said: Today at the Senedd we’ve seen young people grapple with the challenges around global climate negotiations and work hard to reach a consensus. The experience has given them a great opportunity to learn more about the science behind the climate crisis and, through mock negotiations and discussions, discover more about what takes place at the COPs.

“Having worked with the young people today, it’s clear that they already have a fantastic grasp of the global issues we all face with climate change, and I hope today has inspired them to take these skills forward and keep pushing for action on climate change”.

Ruth Cocks, Director, British Council Wales, provided a welcome to the students, saying:The climate crisis is of deep concern particularly to young people, as our research at the British Council shows. This event has put students at the heart of climate negotiations, giving them a unique chance to experience the realities of diplomacy and international negotiation such as that taking place at COP28, providing them with the skills and confidence to take on some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

“Well done to all those involved in today’s event - I’m delighted that young people from across Wales, the wider UK, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates are coming together to actively engage in the challenges of climate change”.

Amber Demetrius and Sioned Cox, Global Learning at WCIA added: “We were so pleased to support the British Council with this event for young people in Wales. We hope this valuable opportunity helped students to develop the skills and confidence they need to become ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world, capable of exploring different perspectives and taking informed action.  We would like to say a huge thank you to all the students, teachers and staff that we worked with for all their efforts in making this event a success.” 

The initiative is part of the British Council’s Schools Connect programme for schools in the UK and around the world. The British Council works with education policymakers to explore effective practices from other countries and help teachers to bring an international perspective to the curriculum. This supports all young people to build the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to respond to global challenges and develop international understanding. 

Through the Climate Connection programme, the British Council is also supporting people globally to find creative solutions to climate change in support of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in UAE this month. The British Council is supporting the summit by engaging with networks of education professionals, students, academics, researchers, artists, civil society leaders and policymakers to participate in meaningful dialogue and bring about real change for our planet.

This event continues the British Council’s work, building connection, understanding and trust between people in the UK and overseas through arts, education and English language teaching. To find out more about their work in Wales visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Hear directly from students at the COP28 Debate Simulations in Cardiff and across the UK 

More images can be found here: © Patrick Olner


Notes to Editor

About the Welsh Centre for International Affairs

The WCIA is Wales’ leading internationalist charity – with a century’s heritage of supporting global learning, global action and global partnerships. 

We inspire people’s interest in global issues and develop their understanding of why these issues are relevant to all of our lives. We build people’s skills and confidence to explore different perspectives and then take informed action. In this way, we want everyone in Wales to feel they can make a difference on these shared concerns.  To find out more about our work, visit: Welsh Centre for International Affairs - Welsh Centre for International Affairs (  or follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram or Facebook.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language.  We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022-23 we reached 600 million people.