In order to help combat climate change, 34 independent schools across the UK have pledged to reach zero carbon by 2030, meaning that no carbon emissions are produced from the school.
There are 375 schools in total that have signed up to the Let’s Go Zero campaign, which is coordinated by climate solutions charity Ashden and supported by Global Action Plan, WWF, Fairtrade Foundation, Soil Association, Eco Schools, Sustrans and Carbon Trust.
Ashden are holding two webinars this week, during this year’s London Climate Action Week, about how schools can take the first steps towards becoming zero carbon. The webinars are being held online on 29 June and 1 July.
Attendees will hear practical tips from teachers and students already involved in taking their schools to zero carbon. Topics of discussion will include reducing energy and water use, cutting waste, boosting biodiversity and promoting active travel.
One independent school involved is Benenden School in Kent. Head of science, Dr Becky Parker, will be discussing the initiatives they have carried out, including installing their own student-engineered biodigester for food waste.
The national Let’s Go Zero school campaign
Another independent school that has signed up to Let’s Go Zero is North London Collegiate School (NLCS), one of the founding members of the London Schools Eco Network.
The school, which has had its carbon footprint independently audited by One Carbon World, has targets in seven categories: biodiversity, travel to school by staff and students, travel flights (school trips and business trips), food, waste (recycling and landfill), communications and engagement, energy use and water use.
NLCS was one of the first schools to join the No Beef Movement; no beef or lamb is served at the school, all fish is MSC certified, and there are a range of vegetarian and vegan options available. One sixth former has tried to take this even further by petitioning local restaurants to also join the movement.
People have to see others make that change before they can change themselves and schools are fantastically placed to demonstrate the changes that need to be made and lead by example – Jenny Chapman, NLCS
The school ensures any trips are made closer to home without flying, but if flights are necessary, they are offset with Trees for Life (rewilding the Caledonian Forest in Scotland).
Jenny Chapman, biology teacher and head of sustainability at NLCS, said: “I can’t imagine not doing what I can to encourage people to want to change their behaviour. People have to see others make that change before they can change themselves and schools are fantastically placed to demonstrate the changes that need to be made and lead by example.
“It’s been fantastic to see the momentum that has built in the last year or so – students and staff are talking about major environmental change and our responsibility in a way they weren’t before. There’s an appetite to see genuine change. Our students would see straight through ‘greenwashing’, and they appreciate the magnitude of the challenge.”