A new report by the Sustainable Development Commission has recommended that English schools can halve their carbon footprint by 2020 with good support from local, regional, and central government. The current carbon footprint of English schools stands at 9.4 million tonnes of greenhouse gases created every year from waste management, pupil and staff travel, heat and power in buildings, and supply chain activities from companies providing goods and services to schools. The report acknowledges that it will not be easy to achieve such reductions and that there is no “one size fits all” approach that can be applied. There must be dedicated support from a wide range of professionals, local government, and supportive policies from central government departments.
However, there is good practice already happening in schools and local authorities that embrace sustainability. These schools could showcase their good practice by making the most of their learning, becoming beacons of sustainability for their pupils, staff, and communities. The recommendations from the report arose from the lessons learned around the country and from the need for togetherness and effective solutions that go beyond the school gate.
Carbon reduction projects in schools should focus on those that enhance their teaching, maintaining children’s well-being, and providing wider benefits, such as saving money and enhancing health. The ten recommendations include getting the support of local authority professionals, getting pupils involved and active in reducing carbon emissions, getting high-value sustainable buildings, cutting down carbon use in school trips, sourcing local food, using eco-friendly buying power, and tapping into sustainable networks that will help increase the school’s influence on local authorities.
According to the SDC’s 2007 “Every Child’s Future Matters” report, reducing school’s carbon emissions now and enabling them to prepare for future climate change impacts are critical goals for schools as climate change could undermine children’s future prosperity and life chances. Ann Finlayson, education commissioner for the SDC, shares in the same belief.