Climate Change & Leeds Youth Voice

Leeds City Council voted to declare a climate emergency in March 2019 after listening to the voices of local young people and scientists from around the world. The council has set a target to become a carbon neutral city by 2030 and to halve our organisation’s emissions by 2025.

At the Leeds Youth Voice Summit 2020, 114 young people put forward their ideas for tackling the climate emergency and the action they wanted to see. The summit gave young people an opportunity to ask their questions to senior councillors, officers, and leading scientists.

As a direct result of the Summit came the production of a Toolkit for Young People, a new resource co-created with young people to support activity around children and young people’s climate emergency ambitions that is ‘hot-off-the-press’ and available here.


Child Friendly Leeds Webinar

The Child Friendly Leeds Team hosted a webinar in January 2021 where ambassadors, business partners and young people came together to discuss climate change and share what they are doing around this agenda. At the event, we updated attendees about the climate priorities of children and young people in Leeds and the work taking place in school; we explored ways organisations can take action and work together around this agenda; we also shared the council’s climate emergency plans (please see below) as well as sharing some opportunities for ambassadors to get involved in…

You can also engage with your employees and begin a discussion about sustainability in the workplace or share these fantastic resources and campaigns.

Subscribe to our #LeedsClimate Newsletter: We currently have well over 5,000 subscribers to our monthly newsletter where we share news stories and opportunities relating to the climate emergency. We’re also keen to feature positive case studies from local organisations that are going the extra mile to become more sustainable. Please email climate.emergency@leeds.gov.uk to find out more or if you’d like your organisation to be featured.


Count Us In: A global campaign on climate change that asks  individuals and organisations to pledge action to reduce their carbon emissions. Supporters include WWF, Global Citizen, HSBC, Leeds City Council and many others…


Leeds By Example: A local campaign to encourage residents to take small actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Website shares tips, tricks and advice on what you can do.


• Woodland Creation Initiative: As well as helping Leeds to become a carbon neutral city, creating new woodlands will support wildlife and benefit health and wellbeing. This year we launched the Woodland Creation Initiative which aims to plant 5.8 million trees by 2050 and will contribute to the White Rose Forest. Schools have received our amazing education pack, teaching children about the implications of climate change on the natural environment, alongside the national curriculum, and the ecological benefits of trees and woodland. Even despite the COVID restrictions, we’ve had over 300 people register to be a volunteer as part of the initiative, planted in 32 sites and bringing our total number of whips planted to 86,839!

To get your business in supporting the woodland creation scheme and for more information, please contact parks.sponsorship@leeds.gov.uk.


What some of our ambassadors are doing…

We have put together some of the projects, ideas and goals our ambassadors and partners who attended our event are working on. If you would like to get in touch with any of our ambassadors or partners mentioned below, would like to connect with our colleagues or offer apprenticeships or opportunities for children and young people, please email us at childfriendlyleeds@leeds.gov.uk.


Rob & Gill are Co-directors of Social Business Brokers CIC – they’re a Leeds based social enterprise that works on a number of social issues in Leeds.  The main project they work on is Zero Waste Leeds – a project that they set up in 2018 to build a movement to help Leeds to become a zero waste city by 2030.  Through their social media they aim to give people top tips on how to waste less in their daily lives – and also run campaigns on specific themes – including clothing and fashion, and the fantastic school uniform exchange. With support from Leeds City Council and Leeds Community Foundation’s Jimbo’s Fund, they launched the project last summer – with the aim of supporting people across Leeds to set up uniform sharing schemes at their school or in their neighbourhood.


Jen is the CEO of Solutions for the Planet, an award-winning social enterprise who run multiple programmes and projects, all with a focus on young people and sustainability, and all aimed at building relationships between businesses and schools. The Big Ideas Programme is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and enterprise programme with a focus on sustainability issues that matter to our young people.  Delivered in secondary schools across the UK and using employee volunteers from our Business Partner Network as mentors, the Big Ideas Programme harnesses creativity, encourages team work, develops STEM and wider employability skills, and gives young people a voice in the dialogue around sustainability. Want to get involved?


Pete from Yorkshire Water joined us at the event. Yorkshire Water have made a public interest commitment to be net zero by 2030, in relation to their operational emissions (This includes their electricity, transport fuels). They have made a commitment to reduce our emissions from our capital assets programme by 23% against a 2019 baseline (This means they will build and maintain facilities using less carbon intensive materials and operations). They have a target to plant 1 million trees by 2028 to help store our carbon. They have a programme to develop 90 mW of solar renewable energy to help power our plants in the next 10 years. They have also built a number of anaerobic digestion plants over the last few years which means nearly all sewerage is turned into electricity, heat and fertiliser rather than going to waste. More recently, they have been increasing their fleet of electric vehicles optimising fuel use on older vehicle and are trialling larger vehicles that are powered by hydrogen.


Paul from Wellington Place, Leeds joined us at the event. Wellington Place (MEPC) signed up as ambassadors last year and were hoping to host our ambassador event but due to covid-19 restrictions, we turned to zoom! He mentioned that at Wellington Place, they strive to benefit the broader community through positive environmental, social and economic impact. Their buildings combine low-carbon design with state-of-the-art technology, creating energy-efficient offices that meet the demands of modern businesses. Not only does this help companies to minimise their carbon footprint, it also saves you money by decreasing energy usage. Win-win. They’re always looking for new ways to reduce environmental impact and enrich the local community – from embracing zero carbon technology to providing greener travel incentives, like discounted public transport and free bike hire – and they also have their very own beehives!


Darren and Cherie joined us from Balfour Beatty – who have long been at the forefront of sustainability, having achieved a 51% reduction in carbon emissions since 2010, 97% of their waste across the UK avoided landfill and 5.2% of their workforce in the UK are in ‘earn and learn’ positions – apprenticeships, graduate positions and sponsored students. However, their understanding of the scale of the challenge and the tools now available to help respond have improved. Find out more about their Sustainability Strategy below. In December 2020 they launched their new Sustainability Strategy, Building New Futures. This includes three 2040 ambitions:

  • Beyond Net Zero
  • Generate Zero Waste
  • Positively Impact More Than 1 Million People

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust as part of the Green Futures project. They work to help empower young people to create positive environmental change and have done several trips with CFL and young people including unaccompanied asylum seeking children who loved the enrichment opportunity to connect with the outdoors and learn more about the environment. They offer opportunities to connect with nature through funded trips to the Dales and within urban communities and also have youth led environmental forums.


Ahead Partnership have worked with over 200,000 young people and have been fantastic Child Friendly Leeds ambassadors. They design, plan and help partners to deliver programmes of meaningful activity that change communities and lives for the better. They connect with schools and businesses and are currently looking at ways to work collaboratively with organisations in creating low carbon-focused education programmes that help to teach young people about climate emergency. Find out about the work they’re doing in your sector and how you can get involved:


“Just wanted to say thanks so much for organising that webinar – it really was super inspiring and I’ve realised there are so many initiatives that I’m keen to get Lansinoh involved with as much as possible. Please keep me informed and put in touch with anything you think Lansinoh could help with. I’d love to keep involved with all of the climate activities taking place in Leeds.”

Sarah – Lansinoh Laboratories


Key links and resources from the event…


Children and young people voice & influence

Following the Leeds Youth Voice summit, young people set out the most effective ways that students considered that they could make a difference to the Climate Emergency; in their schools; in their communities and; in their homes. In summary, the top 3 priorities voted for by students for how they might make a difference in schools and settings were;

  • promoting sustainable travel (walking, cycling, scooting, school streets, etc.)
  • tackling single use plastic (SUP), and
  • supporting school uniform recycling

You may also like to view the Leeds Youth Council’s video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADJ_dQW6ukY&feature=youtu.be

In complementing this development for primary pupils a subsequent Autumn half-term school project for primary schools was organised ‘Get Creative for the Planet!’ that resulted in the production of 3 video films from Leeds primary schools identifying their schools’ environmental priorities. These video films were submitted in a report entitled ‘Children and Young People’s Climate Emergency Priorities’ to LCC’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee (CEAC) at their meeting of 18th January 2021. All the school films were very well received with one Committee member commenting: “I have to say I thought those films were fantastic, really impressive, nicely presented and really interesting”.

The three Primary school video films are available to view on LCC’s You Tube page at:

Councillor Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s Executive Board Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development added “The way in which all the young people we have heard from today have really understood that this is about saving the planet and that, by doing their bit; I just really welcome the voices of young people and the way in which they’re going to, I hope, influence and shape the way in which all the rest of us behave and make that change for the future”.

The Climate Emergency Advisory Committee also approved all the report’s recommendations including: To support other Leeds schools to follow the lead of the submitting schools in identifying their own environmental priorities through issuing a ‘Climate Action Route Map’ and signposting to the Toolkit for Young People (referenced above) on the Leeds by Example website. Find out more about Leeds Youth Voice here.


Child Friendly Leeds have put together the ultimate guide for children, young people and families during lockdown in Leeds. It includes fun and exciting activities and things to do at home, advice and guidance for families during lockdown, educational and fun learning resources for all ages and a competitions page!
Winners announced from pupils at Lawnswood School. They were given “The planet we share’ as a brief for their non-fiction November competition. The brief touched upon climate change and what they would like to achieve for the future of our planet. 


Have some fun and play a round of recycling bingo

Turn recycling into a fun competition with our recycling bingo cards.

  • Print off a card for each person
  • Every time you recycle one of the items tick it off
  • At the end of the week whoever has the most ticks wins!
  • Download the full set here >>>

Investigate recycling with Buster and Pong!

Buster and Pong from Recycle Now have made some great videos to teach kids about recycling. Here’s our favourite videos!

Recycling Plastic

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