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Aberdeen Science Centre hosts mock COP26 grand finale

Decarbonised Gas Alliance UK Roadshow makes final pitstop at ASC ahead of COP26

Pupils from St Machar Academy took on the role of world leaders and climate experts at a mock COP26 event yesterday (Wednesday, October 27), at Aberdeen Science Centre.

The event was the last stop in the Decarbonised Gas Alliance (DGA) UK Roadshow, which kicked off at Westminster earlier this month, and was held in association with Shell, North East Scotland College (NESCOL) and TechFest.

Taking place in the centre’s Shell Learning Zone, the final event explained the aims and objectives of COP26 to the students, emphasising how the energy transition is an integral part of the discussions on climate change and how as the next generation, youngsters have a unique role to influence and persuade world leaders to make important changes.

The roadshow’s grand finale honed in on the participants’ existing knowledge of the sector, as residents of a major energy city, focusing on empowering and inspiring pupils to consider their future choices and opportunities within the industry.

Groups were facilitated by STEM ambassadors from Clarke Energy, Costain, OGUK, TechFest and Storegga.

The ‘world leaders’ had to decide the best course of action for their fictional country, while climate witnesses shared information and recommendations in their specialist area – transport, energy or food and farming – to guide world leaders to make effective and responsible decisions.

Each team then presented their thoughts and ideas to agree a collaborative plan of global action that would benefit the environment.

The Decarbonised Gas Alliance (DGA) is a collective of nearly 30 expert organisations who have come together to help decarbonise the gas system and meet the country’s target of net zero climate emissions.

The UK-wide roadshow saw a hydrogen-powered car visiting key locations such as Equinor’s Hydrogen-to-Humber (H2H) Saltend project, Pilkington Glass, where hydrogen is being trialled to power the furnace, and Northern Gas Networks’ Hydrogen Home – the UK’s first homes to feature 100% hydrogen gas appliances.

The 10-day event aimed to demonstrate that society essentials such as manufacturing, transport and heat cannot be decarbonised through electrification alone.

However, through innovation, collaboration and greater public awareness throughout the regions, hydrogen can play a role in safely, quickly and cost-effectively decarbonising UK infrastructure.

Rob Phillips of Costain, which chairs the DGA, said: “Hydrogen – like many other decarbonised gases – can help us meet the UK’s ever-pressing need for net zero climate emissions, at low cost, with minimal disruption, and while creating thousands of sustainable jobs across the country.

“The DGA roadshow started at Westminster on October 18, and we’ve spent the last 10 days stopping at key hydrogen projects across the UK to promote the investment made in each area.

“Having a mock COP26 event as the grand finale at Aberdeen Science Centre was the ideal way to complete the roadshow, allowing the pupils who took part to understand more about the role of hydrogen in decarbonisation as well as the importance of climate education ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.”

Following the mock COP26 activities, students, pupils and STEM ambassadors were able to spend time exploring Aberdeen Science Centre, which opened in November 2020 following a £6m redevelopment and boasts 60 interactive exhibits across six zones; Energy, Space, Life Sciences, Make It, Test It and a dedicated area for under 6s.

Kostas Minas, head of education and learning at Aberdeen Science Centre, said: “Hosting the finale of the DGA UK roadshow was a fantastic opportunity for Aberdeen Science Centre. We’re incredibly passionate about STEM education and our resources continuously adapt to be reflective of industry.

“At ASC we like to show that education doesn’t always have to be theoretical and physical activities, such as the ones that took place today, emphasise that learning can be done in different ways, even in the world of STEM.

“We’re thoroughly impressed with the students’ thoughts and ideas and look forward to seeing where they go in the future.”

John Raine, social investment corporate relations at Shell UK said: “Events like this are a great example of why the Shell Learning Zone at Aberdeen Science Centre was created, to inspire and empower the next generation of problem solvers.

“The DGA’s mock COP26 allowed the students to more accurately understand the importance of COP26, which takes place here in Scotland next week, and feel excited about the role they play in helping our environment.

“These individuals are our future leaders of tomorrow, so we should give them the tools and knowledge to help them make a difference.”

The activities completed in today’s event also count towards pupils’ CREST awards, a scheme created by the British Science Association that inspires hands on education in the field of STEM, adding value to individuals learning and teamwork, while also benefiting further education and future work opportunities.

A number of pupils from St Machar Academy who participated in today’s event also attend NESCOL’s Girls in Energy programme, a course which opens up career possibilities for young women interested in a career in STEM.

 L-R: John Raine of Shell UK, Lydia Walker of Costain (chair and secretariat of the DGA), Kostas Minas of ASC and pupils from St Machar Academy Photo by Ross Johnston/Newsline Media

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