The COP26 Pupil Power Roadshow

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Today is the day our Pupil Power Roadshow exhibition finally gets underway at COP26 in Glasgow’s Science Centre, ahead of this exciting moment, we want to give you all some more detail on what we are doing and how you can get involved (in person or online).

Our roadshow takes place from 9 am-5 pm (Saturday 6th November) in the COP26 Green Zone in the Glasgow Science Centre, if you’re in Glasgow please come and see us to learn more about the following topics. 

Energy Storage and Hydrogen Fuel Cells

To prevent the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment and human health, there is a need to decarbonise the energy and automotive sectors. This transition will be hugely dependent on renewable electricity (solar and wind) availability, which is currently experiencing a rapid period of growth. But renewables remain burdened by supply and demand discrepancies, as their most productive periods (during the day) are when electricity demand is lowest, while they are least productive when demand is highest (evening/night). 

Hence the goal of decarbonising the energy and automotive sectors hinges on improving energy conversion and storage technologies. Meaning, there is currently intense research dedicated to increasing the performance of battery and fuel cell technologies. One promising option is the use of hydrogen fuel cells. In a fuel cell, hydrogen gas (H2) can be split into two single hydrogen atoms, reacting with oxygen and releasing energy and water. As water is the only by-product, hydrogen is an incredibly clean fuel. 

The reverse process can also take place, whereby water is split into hydrogen and oxygen (via electrolysis). Meaning when renewable energy is plentiful, the electricity can be used to create hydrogen, which can then be stored and used as a fuel when required. It is expected that fuel cells, along with batteries, will increasingly form an integral part of our energy mix (especially within transport).

The primary initiative of the energy storage task force is to share our knowledge and experience of these systems with the general public through the use of interactive demonstration kits. So in collaboration with the UCL-based electrochemical outreach, UCell, students at our Pupil Power Exhibition will perform tabletop demonstrations to help illuminate the chemistry behind harnessing hydrogen energy as an alternative fuel to petrodiesel. The hands-on tutorials will employ miniature model cars (and fruit batteries) to simulate the real-life application of a carbon-free vehicle powered by hydrogen. The hope is that our exhibition will dispel some of the myths around the dangers of hydrogen and engage the public in a conversation on how the global transition to clean energy can be facilitated by the switch to near zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells.

Hydrogen-powered cars have the potential to revolutionise the automotive industry. Source: Flickr / Adam Gautsch

Climate Conversations

Eco-anxiety is a phenomenon that describes the distress and apprehension experienced as a result of climate change and the existential threat of ecological disasters and environmental degradation. PPL PWR will be assisted by the Climate Psychology Alliance in teaching students about resilience and the necessary facilitation techniques to host a climate café, a safe space for a discussion group to gather informally and address the mental strain of the climate emergency. 

By meeting up and working through the uncertainty that hangs over the future of our planet, which can evoke fear, anger, despair, and sadness, students will learn to channel these negative emotions into an empathetic and inclusive forum that allows for a constructive exchange of thoughts and feelings. The students will be equipped with the tools to broach their own climate conversations in the COP26 Green Zone, thereby negotiating the complex and at times challenging feelings that climate change can engender.

Valuing Our Green Spaces

Research shows that contact with nature has a restorative effect on mental and physical health by providing individuals with respite from the stressors of fast-paced modern life. It is essential that urban planners and policymakers recognise the benefits of conserving open spaces in the built environment for wellbeing, biodiversity, tourism, and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration. You can check out one example of the impact green spaces can have in this video.

Exploring its many benefits, from individual and community wellbeing to conserving nature and profiting economies, the younger generation believes that everyone should have the right to access nature and its resources. To illustrate the importance of green spaces, students will be given a masterclass in filmmaking, which will cover the basics of shooting, editing, and storytelling, and be tasked with producing a video interview either independently or with friends and family in their favorite park, field, garden or woodland. The films, which will be screened at the COP26 green zone and online (keep an eye on our social media), highlight the collective voice of students and tell us why we should value green space and how we can go about rekindling our relationship with the natural world. 

Victoria Park in London provides an important respite from urban heat and pollution. Source: Flickr / Ben Rimmer

We are so excited to finally demonstrate all these amazing projects to the public at Glasgow and to once more elevate the youth perspective at this critical conference. If you’re in Glasgow please come and see us in the green zone this Saturday (6th November), if you can’t be in Glasgow, watch out for our upcoming social media posts to see what we are up to.

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