Although the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations have come to an end, the fight against climate change has not, which is why schools across the country are commemorating the monarch’s unprecedented milestone with an ambitious initiative.
The project has been set up by the Million Tree Pledge (MTP), a group of individuals and businesses committed to planting over one million trees each in response to the climate crisis, along with Ecologi, the UK’s leading climate action platform, and One Britain One Nation (OBON), the community interest company.
The MTP’s ethos, which is the driving force behind the campaign, is one based on the power of collective action
As part of this initiative, there is The Million Tree Jubilee campaign which works with schools like St Dominic’s and Birdham CE to plant a total of one million trees during the course of the Jubilee year in order to sequester damaging carbon from the atmosphere.
Making an impact through collective action
The Million Tree Pledge’s ethos, which is the driving force behind the campaign, is one based on the power of collective action. During the last eight months of 2021, its 32 members, consisting of small and medium-sized businesses, planted more than 5,000,000 trees through the Ecologi platform – more than the UK government planted in the same period.
Ecologi, the platform facilitating the Million Tree Pledge’s work, shares this principle, helping its 35,000 strong community to plant 43.5 million trees and offset nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2 since its inception in 2019.
During the last eight months of 2021, its 32 members, consisting of small and medium-sized businesses, planted more than 5,000,000 trees through the Ecologi platform – more than the UK government
This same impactful approach to carbon sequestration has been applied to the education sector where there is an equally strong appetite among school governors and teachers to harness the curiosity and enthusiasm of thousands of pupils to help fight climate change.
Not only that, many young people are incredibly well-informed about the issues climate change poses and the need to take proper action, and this kind of initiative enables them to channel that energy, passion and expertise into something meaningful and impactful.
How schools can get involved in the campaign and the wider fight against climate change
This is a year-long campaign so, although the Jubilee celebrations have quietened down, schools can still get involved by signing up at the Million Tree Jubilee website. There, they will be taken to the Ecologi platform where they can create a free account and begin planting trees in Uganda, Kenya, Nicaragua, Mozambique and Madagascar, and support local economies in the process. These projects are all carried out by Ecologi’s reforestation partners who undergo a rigorous assessment to ensure they meet the highest ecological and ethical standards.
In order to fund the planting of these trees, the Million Tree Jubilee encourages teachers, pupils and parents alike to take action by getting creative and organise fundraisers like bake sales, raffles, non-uniform days and fun runs. These kinds of activities represent the collective action required to effect real and lasting change in the fight against climate change.
Participating schools might also find the necessary inspiration or impetus to extend their sustainability commitments beyond the pledge and have a lasting positive impact on the environment.
For instance, they might seek to reduce internal energy consumption levels by doing things like using environmentally friendly cleaning products, advocating zero waste at school events, using more sustainable IT systems and encouraging pupils and parents to walk to school where possible.
The cumulative impact of these small changes and daily actions can be huge in reducing a school’s carbon footprint.
Teaching the climate activists of tomorrow (and today)
Another potential benefit of participation in the Million Tree Jubilee pledge is the awareness and appetite for knowledge it can generate among students. While many school pupils are already well-versed on the issue of climate change, it’s an issue that is ever-changing and developing, so they must be encouraged to continuously build upon their knowledge and are provided with the necessary techniques and resources to do so.
Through a recent campaign by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS), 722 educators across over 130 schools committed to doing just that by agreeing to teach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of their curriculum. The 15th of these goals focuses specifically on developing sustainable ecosystems and forest areas – a topic the Million Tree Jubilee can act as a springboard for.
Today’s students are already living with the early effects of climate change and could spend much of their lives trying to combat it
Teachers and schools can also take more accessible or ‘straightforward’ steps to teaching students about the environment. This can involve anything from sharing reading lists of key books and texts from the likes of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to engaging students with the topic, assigning them homework that involves calculating their family’s carbon footprint or giving them the licence to carry out a research project on an area of particular interest to them. By engaging them in this way, their learning is likely to be much more impactful.
Through no fault of their own, today’s students are already living with the early effects of climate change and could spend much of their lives trying to combat it. By engaging them from a young age through initiatives like the Million Tree Jubilee, they can learn the importance and power of collective action and we can go some way to equipping them with the tools and know-how to mobilise in the near future.
For this pledge to be meaningful, however, schools must develop upon the momentum they create beyond this year and continue to engage their students and local communities in sustainability initiatives and behaviours. By doing so, and doing so as a collective, schools can play a key role in the fight against climate change.