Finlay and Ella Pringle were very excited, with 6 other Scottish climate activists, to travel to Switzerland to attend the Summer Meeting In Lausanne Europe (SMILE) Climate conference.

There were 421 young people including Greta Thunberg, from 38 different countries, speaking 29 different languages at the event. All having given up a week of their summer holidays and travelled by public transport (bus, train & ferry) from their home countries. It took the Irish delegation over 40 hours of travelling, so our 16 hour journey by train from Scotland was relatively short.

Finlay and Ella spent the week attending workshops, listening to key note speeches from UN staff, IPCC delegates and leading climate scientists and larger plenary sessions where the important decisions affecting the structure and direction of the movement were decided. Some of these plenary discussions were not easy, with varied opinions and emotions running high but ultimately the delegates were able to unite behind their common purpose of preventing climate change, allowing individual countries to take decisions locally as to how they achieve these aims while holding to a common set of values and beliefs. It was good to see Greta Thunberg joining in these discussions as just another climate activist.

The whole process was very transparent with the press and media in attendance throughout. In addition the kids themselves filmed the whole event, interviewing themselves and also created a radio show for the week.

The whole event was organised by 4 young activists with the help of 40-50 volunteers. This included feeding and accommodating all the delegates for 6 days. An amazing achievement by people who aren’t even 18 years old. The venue for the conference was the University of Lausanne, who’s rector gave the welcoming speech and commented about how difficult it was to decide to let the event take place, apparently it took her and her staff a whole 30 seconds to decide to support the event !

It was a very intense, hard working week but there were a few moments of down time where international relations were cemented over games of Frisbee and table tennis. Finlay playing ping pong with the climate delegate from the United Nations was an unforgettable moment ! Ella particularly enjoyed the performing arts and raw food workshops and making the campaign placards on the Friday morning.

Geoff Pringle
Fin and Ella’s Dad