A TEENAGER will bring together schools and academics from across the country today for a virtual conference on climate change.

Emma Bradshaw, a pupil at Oxford High School, is running the 'Economy vs Environment' event over Zoom all day, featuring more than 20 schools and ten high-profile speakers.

The 16-year-old took it upon herself to organise today's programme after this year's national economics conference for students was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is a particularly pressing issue for Miss Bradshaw, from Wootton, near Abingdon, who grew up in Beijing and came to the UK in 2014.

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She said: “The environment versus economy debate was very current and I grew up witnessing first hand this industrialisation.

“I had to wear a pollution mask every day on the way to school and I’d have to check whether it was even safe to go outside.

“It was really refreshing coming here, but I don’t think the environment should be neglected and the conference is about addressing the balance.”

“Awareness of the situation in other countries is something a lot of people don’t have.

“As we grow older we become a lot more aware.”

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Miss Bradshaw will kick-off the day with an introduction at 8.30am, before a series of presentations and question and answer sessions until 5.30pm.

Speakers include Dieter Helm, professor of economic policy at Oxford University and Sir Paul Collier, professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government in Jericho.

The final talk of the day will be delivered from San Diego by University of North Carolina professor Douglas Crawford-Brown.

Miss Bradshaw was delighted to see so many academics answer her requests, which she began sending off early in the pandemic.

She said: “When you have three months stuck in lockdown you’ve got to do something.

“I was very fortunate that they agreed to give up their time."

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It is the first time the teenager has organised an event of this kind, but with 25 schools set to dial in she is keen to run more in the future.

The conference is more low-key than the school climate strikes that have been put on hold by the pandemic.

But Miss Bradshaw, who wants to study land economy at Cambridge University, is determined that coronavirus does not impact the fight against climate change.

She said: “This is a critical time for my generation in taking a leading role in an issue we’ve inherited.

“It would be very easy to do nothing during the pandemic, but the environment is far too important for us to ignore.

“It’s been difficult because people aren’t going to be outside protesting, but this is a nice way to ease students back into this sort of thing without disrupting their education.

“It’s the best way to promote it while we’re back at school.”