Today is education day at the COP, and many school groups and youth organizations are slotted to give presentations. One event, “Climate Action Starts At School,” highlighted a competition between local primary schools to create and implement climate conscious programming in their communities. The competition was sponsored by IKEA and others.
The competition was based on the language of Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, which states: “Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information. . .” It is clear that these schools and their students took this challenge to heart. They all developed comprehensive programs to address all aspects of Article 12. After hearing the presentations from each school, I’m sure it will be hard for the competition organizers to narrow it down further.
The finalists were:
Primary School no. 10
Primary School no. 19
Primary School no. 27
Primary School no. 28
Primary School no. 51
The representatives from each school outlined how they planned to attack climate change and waste management issues in their schools, homes, and communities. Each program has unique features, but most schools focused on four main issues; water conservation, waste collection, energy usage, and sustainable gardening and biodiversity.
These students have designed programs that aim to educate themselves, their families, and their communities about these issues. They seek to create climate conscious “habits,” and solidify sustainable practices as a mainstay from now on.
Students will be responsible for tracking water and energy use in their homes, and consolidating this data with their classmates. They will then educate their families and community members about best practices, and then conduct a re-assessment later in the year. Public School No. 27, for example, is encouraging students to ride bikes to school, if they can, rather than getting rides from their parents. Also, Public School No. 19 will post water conservation best practices in school bathrooms, in order to promote less water usage.
Most schools are looking to step-up their waste collection game, which includes collecting and sorting various waste materials within their schools and in their wider communities. Students would like to see increased recycling efforts, and are taking upon themselves to make it happen. Public School No. 51 plans to collect rainwater in order to offset water usage. Further, all five schools will collect food waste, and will compost the food to be used in their gardens.
Speaking of gardens… each school plans on improving or creating public gardens at their schools. Using composted food waste as fertilizer, these students will reduce the need for chemical alternatives. This reduces the cost of the program, and prevents the use of harmful chemicals. Primary School No. 1 believes their garden will be the envy of all others. Although, I believe they will have some stiff competition.
All of these schools will educate and inform their communities through workshops, presentations, and even marches. These students think it is very important to engage their community members in these ways to facilitate a more concerted effort. Public School No. 28 has written many poems to serve as slogans during march, which their presenter assured us are very, very good. These schools believe, because they cannot act globally, they should affect as much change locally as they can. What these students may not realize, however, is that their enthusiasm and dedication is evident to all of us. Their efforts should serve as a inspiration and motivation globally, and hopefully more schools and youth organizations will follow their lead.
After the presentation, IKEA served their new vegetarian hot dogs. IKEA claims that the carbon footprint for their veggie dogs is up to 7x less than that of traditional hot dogs. While I’ve never tried they’re famous meatballs, I’m sure these hot dogs would give them a run for their money.