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22 November 2010

Toby and Tara pictured with Pano Kroko of the Environmental Parliament at the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, Westminster

Toby and Tara pictured with Pano Kroko of the Environmental Parliament at the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, Westminster



Toby Charles and Tara Gibbins-Klein, two St Albans teenagers, took part in a national live debate at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday 18 November 2010.

Toby, a year 9 pupil at Townsend Church of England School and Tara, year 11, at Dame Alice Owens were given the daunting task of addressing the panel of a two hour high-powered discussion on “Carbon Cycling – the Missing Link in the Carbon Debate?”  The debated focused on the plausibility of recovering the world’s deserts with trees.

Organised as part of Global Enterprise Week, the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group meeting attracted over 100 attendees and was led by Hertfordshire-based grass roots pressure group FREdome.  A delegation of 8 young people, including science students from around Hertfordshire sat as a panel listening to the proceedings. A number of eminent soil scientists, environmentalist and representatives from tree charities and the shipping industry contributed to the discussions.

Rubbing shoulders with MPs and top brass did not faze either Toby or Tara. In her two-minute opening speech Tara thanked the attendees for taking the problems of deforestation and soil erosion seriously. Urging assembled adults to act quickly to reverse desertification she said;

“We’ve shown the initiative and now we are here to express not our own need but the requirement of the world for bold people to take action. When the future of the entire world rests in our hands it’s imperative that we defend it no matter what!

In Toby’s summing up speech he said that the youth delegation were encouraged,  but that we should not act selfishly in this country by only thinking about the immediate problems facing our own environment. He questioned a scientist’s suggestion that we should think about ourselves before the desert regions, saying,

“Who is ‘ourselves’?   Is that the UK or ‘ourselves’ as a species – or the world, or the human race? The human race is one whether in the UK or the desert regions – we are all one.”

After the event Toby and Tara met Mr Pano Kroko, the chairman of the International Environmental Parliament. Mr Kroko congratulated the pair on their speaking skills and said,

“Thank you very much for your contribution today. You are the future – we need you.”

FREdome founder, Greg Peachey said, “Toby and Tara’s presence made such a difference to the meeting. I thought the event went really well, provoking a lot of interest and discussion.”

The chair of the debate was the Rt Hon Katy Clark MP. It took place at 6 pm at the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House.

As a member of the FREdome Visionary Trust environmental youth group Toby is used to the limelight. He took a leading part in a short film competition last year with other children and teenagers and their successful entry was shown both at Copenhagen 2009, and afterwards at the UK Houses of Parliament.  Toby is also a Scout in 4th St Albans troupe, and is heavily involved in the gang show this year.

Tara has always taken action on environmental issues.  As an 11-year old she led a single-handed campaign to raise awareness of climate change among her class mates, and more recently she spoke at the San Diego Youth Leadership Summit 2009. As a GCSE student of biology, Tara’s ambition is to train as a doctor.  Tara says,

“I am keen on people of my age standing up and doing something to change the world – no matter what it is!”

–        Ends –

For further information please contact Suzanne Watts, FREdome Visionary Trust local supporter communications on 0207 193 8690.

For further information about FREdome and the debate contact Anna Zachariassen, Thrive Media Services Limited, t: +44 (0)7949 924303

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