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Students from schools across Bradford have taken up the challenge of creating a Net Zero Island at a special event hosted at the University of Bradford

The challenge, set by the region’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) in partnership with the University of Bradford, Bechtle and the Skills House will see teams of year nine students, aged 13 and 14, develop ideas for sustainable living on a fictional Net Zero island.

The teams of up to five will explore how they would produce energy for heating and cooking, manage waste and fuel transport for a population of 30,000, without creating carbon emissions.

The UK government has set a target of achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 as it looks to tackle and reverse the effects of climate change on the environment.

Dave Rockett, Net Zero Educator at NGN said ‘Achieving Net Zero is a huge and complex challenge and world leaders are grappling with how it can be achieved. Judging by the enthusiasm I’ve seen today, our young people are well equipped to help with the task and propose thoughtful and innovative solutions. I look forward to supporting them and seeing their ideas develop’.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council Leader, who attended today’s launch to talk about the council’s own plans and activities to reach Net Zero said “Tackling climate change is important to us all, it is really great to see this Net Zero challenge hosted in Bradford. Bradford Council is committed to achieving our net zero targets by 2038 and we hope that businesses, residents and students will join us on our journey. Good luck to all schools who have entered the competition”.

Dr Elaine Brown, Reader in Mechanical & Process Engineering at the University of Bradford’s Faculty of Engineering & Digital Technologies, said “Engineers work on solving issues that affect people and nothing is more important than those affecting our climate. The opportunity to learn from university and industry experts, and to meet students from different schools, will help them understand why we need diverse and different voices and ideas in order to address environmental and sustainability challenges.  At the University of Bradford sustainable thinking is embedded in all of our engineering programmes, and students are tasked to consider the technical and ethical problems related to building a Net Zero future.”

Andrew Gray, Project Lead at Skills House said “Skills House builds relationships with businesses and educational organisations in West Yorkshire to develop opportunities for our young people to gain insights into the world of work and future career pathways. By working in partnership with other organisations today, the students are able to engage with a Net Zero Island project, informed by industry leaders. We’re excited to see what solutions the students come up with when they pitch their Net Zero Island plan”

Following today’s launch the teams will evolve their ideas, with the support of NGN mentors and present their plans to judges in the style of Dragon’s Den on 17th April.

The pupils taking part attend Dixons Trinity, Lightcliffe Academy, Woodhouse Grove, and St Bede’s and St Joseph’s schools in the city.