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European Youth Debating Competition

Interviews with Winners

On 26 November 2007 at London's City Hall, PlasticsEurope held the London based heat of a European Youth Debating competition that is taking place across 10 countries in Europe.

(Photo: The winners and the jury members)

The theme was "Energy, climate protection and plastics". The specific motion was "Plastics: Are they part of the problem, or do they represent a contribution to the solution of the problem?"

The 10 winners will compete against their European counterparts in the final debate in the European Parliament in Brussels next year.

Some of the winners agreed to answer some questions by email. The email interviews are published below.

Interview with Freddie Williams

1. Why have taken part in the session of the Youth Parliament in London?
I enjoy debating and the chance to do so in such an impressive location appealed to me. Climate change is also a very current topic and i think that debating is one of the most important and effective methods of communicating the necessary lessons about energy saving for the future. It enabled me to learn not only about the dangers of climate change but about the best ways of combating it, and how these don't necessarily need to be as combative as many green activists suggest.

2. What does the prize mean to you?
It's an amazing opportunity and, as someone who's very interested in politics and parliaments, I'm excited at the prospect of being able to debate in such a an amazing situation.

3. Has the prize helped you modify your behaviour in terms of energy saving?
I think the most important lesson I learnt from the debate in London was that perhaps government action to combat climate change would best be employed in seeking co-operation with large-scale industry, but that this was necessary to prevent imminent climactic catastrophe.

4. Is there any particular message that you would like to convey to your colleagues in Europe? What is this message?
I look forward to strong debates about issues that really matter.


Interview with Jennifer Quigley-Jones

1. Why have you taken part in the session of the Youth Parliament in London?
I enjoy debating and listening to the views of others and expressing my own. I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to learn and to meet new people

2. What does the prize mean to you?
The prize means a lot to me- though I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the competition, winning the prize means that I have the opportunity to go to Brussels and learn more about other countries and cultures. It also makes me feel as though my opinions are being listened to and taken account of.

3. Has the prize helped you modify your behaviour in terms of energy saving? I always turn off lights now when I leave rooms and turn the television off standby! However it has actually encouraged me to use plastics as I was previously unaware that only 4-6% of the world's usage crude oil goes towards making plastics.

4. Is there any particular message that you would like to convey to your colleagues in Europe? What is this message? I would just like to say that though other countries can seem remote, we are all part of a global community and need to take a global responsibility for our environment (I also look forward to meeting some of them in Brussels this summer)!


Interview with Peter O'Connor

1. Why have taken part in the session of the Youth Parliament in London?
The Youth Parliament session in London was a great opportunity to discuss and hopefully contribute to one of the most important issues facing the world today; global climate change. Furthermore, debating such an issue is a great way to practise public speaking, build confidence and to broaden the awareness of others and myself to the role plastics play within the ongoing issue of global climate change.

2. What does the prize mean to you?
The prize is a great chance to represent the progress being made in the UK with the rest of the Europe and to exchange ideas, views and approaches on a continental level, as well as being a once in a lifetime opportunity to speak in one of the centres of the EU, in Brussels, with fellow students and to hopefully make an impact within the European community to move forward and progress with the discussion of such issues.

3. Has the prize helped you modify your behaviour in terms of energy saving? Energy saving has always been in my mind, but many of the plastic saving ideas I heard were ingenious, solutions and suggestions to the problems of waste plastic that I had never thought of, from the simple re-using of plastic bags, to the refilling of bottles to minimise the amount required. This all saves energy as more plastic is required, and even choosing plastic packaging over heavier packages such as glass, or those which produce more waste CO2 in manufacture such as card, saves energy in transport and manufacture respectively, which is great.

4. Is there any particular message that you would like to convey to your colleagues in Europe? What is this message?
Yes. That it is imperative to understand, appreciate and act upon the fragile balance of the environment and take everything into account. Nuclear power can lower greenhouse gases, but creates radioactive waste, bio-fuels may contribute less greenhouse gases to the environment but harm land needed desperately for crops and plastic may contribute lots of waste, but can be very friendly in terms of CO2 emissions and technological progress. The environment is a complex and fragile thing, which we need to treat with the respect which we have failed to do so in the past.


Interview with Tim Wyatt

1. Why have taken part in the session of the Youth Parliament in London?
I took part in the Youth Parliament to improve my personal debating skills, engage with others my age over important issues, and to try and get a free trip to Brussels.

2. What does the prize mean to you?
The prize is great - it's an opportunity to visit a new place, have a good time and it will be a great experience to put on my CV.

3. Has the prize helped you modify your behaviour in terms of energy saving?
Taking part in the debate made me think again over environmental issues, but as of yet I haven't made any drastic changes to my lifestyle.

4. Is there any particular message that you would like to convey to your colleagues in Europe? What is this message?
I look forward to meeting you all, and winning our debates.