How do schools become part of the Green recovery?
MEEN’s AGM was set up to discuss how schools can be a part of the much needed, and much vaunted, Green Recovery and how this can take us on the journey to the zero carbon 2038 target. To help us examine the issues four speakers were invited along to get us thinking.
Emma Greenwood, Youth MP for Bury and climate activist, opened the discussion stating very clearly that climate change needed to be embedded in the curriculum. Working with the Teach the Future campaign she was equally clear that the older generation needs to respond to young activists demands that climate change becomes an issue we address in all our activities. Such demands were eloquently and passionately delivered and set the bar high.
For the vast majority of schools Emma would have been a daunting act to follow. But, if you happened to be Andy Clark from Canon Burrows C of E Primary, with years of working as the school’s Eco Coordinator, it was easy to demonstrate how a school can effectively work towards becoming zero carbon. With a green roof on one building, solar panels on another, solar lights bringing free light into classrooms, a local stream and woodland to maintain, plastic free school status and the constant involvement of the pupils on each step of the journey the school is an outstanding example of how the journey can be undertaken.
If Emma’s contribution was about adults needing to listen to young people about climate change and to urgently step up their response to the crisis, Andy’s contribution was showing how going on the journey to zero carbon could be done by generations working together.
The next two speakers were chosen as organisations who have the capacity to support schools on the carbon zero journey. Rosie Naylor from the RHS shared the information about Greater Manchester’s IGNITION project by focusing on how nature-based solutions in school grounds can, for example, help store carbon and stop water run-off. She also flagged up that Spring 2021 will see an accompanying project which will help KS3 pupils think about the nature-based solutions.
The last speaker, Kate Eldridge, a founding director of Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR), presented information about their work getting solar arrays on schools. She outlined the way their model works, the benefits it brings to schools whilst also commenting on the blocks they experienced in following a community energy model. This great example of dedicated volunteers successfully managing to bring solar benefits to local school communities is a positive move towards zero carbon.
However, GMCR are also keen to work with schools to access funding to reduce bills further, and a discussion about the Decarbonisation Fund for schools https://www.salixfinance.co.uk/PSDS ensued as one of the routes for delivering a Green Recovery for schools.
Thanks to the wonderful speakers sharing their stories the AGM was able to share some good news in trying times. Let’s hope that next year’s AGM can share even more stories of collaboration on our journey to a zero carbon Greater Manchester.
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