The importance of protecting the environment has been getting a lot of headlines lately. Blue Planet 2 did an amazing job of highlighting the issue of plastic being discarded into our Oceans and the problem of warming seas harming coral and other sea life due to climate change. The government also recently launched its 25 year plan to improve the Environment which, while setting way too long a timescale at least is a step in the right direction.
In the publication there is a commitment to supporting ‘Nature Friendly Schools’ in the most disadvantaged areas that will be available from Autumn 2018. There is no need to wait until then, however, if you’d like to help your school to play its role in educating young people about the importance of protecting the environment. Indeed, the urgency of this problem demands rapid action, a look at the top 6 headlines on the BBC news website one day in mid-January had half relating to the environment with mudslides in California, air pollution in the UK and a roll out of the 5p plastic bag charge.
Change from a fossil fuel reliant system that is leading to climate change and environmental degradation to a more sustainable system, while still currently too slow, has been has been picking up pace since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. The transition to renewable energy saw around 24% of electricity in the UK generated from renewable sources in 2016 and the move towards electric vehicles signalled by the plan to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040, though not as ambitious as Norway’s target of 2025, clearly marks the direction of travel.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the education sector. The last Labour Government’s Sustainable Schools Framework in 2008 set a target for all schools to be ‘sustainable schools’ by 2020, but that was dropped by the Coalition Government in 2010 and due to competing pressures and recent funding cuts the sector has gone backwards in its provision of education for sustainability and we are now a long way from that target.
Despite this, there is a growing awareness that our young people deserve and demand better. Young people instinctively understand the need to protect our natural environment and as they get older, want to work for companies with a good environmental performance. Teachers too, particularly those entering the profession, are frustrated by the bad example that schools are setting on environmental issues with many not even recycling all the paper and plastic bottles that get used.
If you are a teacher or a parent and agree that more should be done, we are here to help. Green Schools Project can support your school to recruit a group of students to lead whole school projects such as energy saving, recycling, growing vegetables and holding awareness raising environment days. We can provide a university student volunteer to help run the Eco-team and support the projects, we can deliver staff training on embedding sustainability into the curriculum and we can provide energy saving support that can save your school significant amounts of money.
Please get in touch if you are interested. There are great examples of schools around the country doing inspiring work on this, but what is needed is a movement which leads to it being unacceptable not to prepare our young people for a future where climate change and the need to protect the environment will play a big part in their lives.