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UK schools pledge to be zero carbon by 2030

Led by climate solutions charity Ashden, Let’s Go Zero will officially launch at the week-long Youth Climate Summit starting 9 November with a series of daily presentations and discussions.

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A new campaign which aims to support UK schools’ efforts to reduce their emissions and calls for government action on greening schools has been announced.

 

Led by climate solutions charity Ashden, Let’s Go Zero will officially launch at the week-long Youth Climate Summit starting 9 November with a series of daily presentations and discussions.

 

Zero carbon

 

According to Ashden, by joining Let’s Go Zero, schools are clearly stating their ambition to be zero carbon by 2030, agreeing to do more, while acknowledging that they need government help to reach the target.

 

The aim is for Let’s Go Zero to help schools learn from their peers, share best practice and connect with sources of support.

 

“Young people are demanding action on climate [change] and we must all get behind them, starting in the UK’s 32,000 schools,” said Harriet Lamb, CEO of Ashden.

 

“[Some] 10 million people walk through the school gates every day and they can take bold action to go green in the schools themselves.”

 

Ashden reports that student eco clubs are proving key to boosting student and teacher commitment. For instance, Year 12 student Caroline Uttermann at North London Collegiate School is a school eco rep and a youth ambassador at the Youth Climate Summit: “I’m passionately doing what I can to educate my peers and elders on the climate crisis, and to encourage them to make changes in their lives – both big and small,” she said. “I cannot stand silent as the beauty I have admired all my life disappears.”

 

“We’ve only got one world, we can’t keep chipping away at it, we have to show the students it’s important to protect it,” said Scott Fry, premises manager at Exmouth Community School.

 

“The Let’s Go Zero initiative will help put weight behind what schools like us are doing – I’ve been doing most of this solo and it’s been quite lonely at times – so this is wonderful. I’m committed to spreading the word.”

“We cannot rely just on the good will of school management – they will need government support and funding mechanisms to make the necessary changes”

Ashden claims radical energy efficiency improvements will make significant carbon savings – 60 per cent of energy used by schools is wasted out of hours, and English schools alone spend £600m per year on energy – the second largest budget item after staff salaries.

 

For instance, St Francis Xavier School in Richmond, North Yorkshire made energy efficiencies that, reportedly, saved the school over £8,000 per year, which the trust it is part of would like to replicate across its 17 schools.

Ashden points out that getting to zero carbon will need to be a government-supported effort.

 

Climate impacts

 

“We cannot rely just on the good will of school management – they will need government support and funding mechanisms to make the necessary changes. We need to move at pace and scale to reduce severe climate impacts which will affect these children’s lives,” added Lamb.

 

“Let’s Go Zero provides a powerful route for schools to drive impact-led action and unite behind a call for much-needed funding to help all schools to become cleaner, healthier and sustainable learning environments,” said Sonja Graham, Co-CEO of Global Action Plan.

 

The Let’s Go Zero campaign is supported by a network of partners including Ashden, Global Action Plan, Fairtrade Foundation, Carbon Trust, EcoSchools, Sustrans (School Streets) and the Soil Association.

 

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