Let’s Go Zero – a campaign in which schools commit to be zero carbon by 2030 – has now exceeded 1,000 signed up schools across the UK.
Let’s Go Zero is a coalition campaign co-ordinated by climate solutions charity Ashden and includes IKEA UK, Global Action Plan, WWF, The Carbon Trust, Sustrans, The Soil Association, Eco Schools and Fairtrade.
Let’s Go Zero schools have been taking action to cut their emissions with transport, waste, food, water, the school grounds, energy use, procurement and in their teaching.
Initiatives in Let’s Go Zero schools range from the simple to the more extensive and include energy monitoring and installing smart meters; eco-retrofitting draughty old buildings; having annual no electricity days; installing solar panels or wind turbines; reducing food waste (one school’s Eco team even weighs it daily!) and composting all the school’s food waste in a biodigester. Let’s Go Zero schools are full of inspirational actions being taken all over the country by students and teachers.
Alex Green, Let’s Go Zero’s Project Manager, said: “We’re so excited to have reached this milestone in just over a year. Let’s Go Zero schools are leading the way, showing communities, councils and the government how to move fast in a climate emergency. In nurseries, primary and secondary schools, colleges and schools serving children with special educational needs, teachers and students UK-wide have shown that change is possible.
“Let’s Go Zero schools are across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Schools are such an important part of the communities they work for, and with 544,000 students and 75,500 school staff involved we know that this campaign is changing communities across the country.
“When schools make sustainable choices, they help spread knowledge about our climate and the action we can all take to help secure a green economy for future generations. The schools are acting as zero carbon community champions – and influencing and benefiting local businesses as they make their changes.”
Monk Fryston Church of England Primary school in North Yorkshire has not only taken action within the school gates but is also working with the wider community, helping to make all community buildings in their village carbon neutral. Headteacher Rick Weights said: “We believe we can create a blueprint that other rural communities can use.”
The students were involved in awareness raising and designing the project’s logo. The project has shown the students that they can implement change not only within their school grounds but the wider community by becoming active citizens.
Louise White, principal teacher of Corpus Christi Primary school in Glasgow, Scotland, said: “We have a responsibility as educators to teach sustainability in education.”
Corpus Christi Primary are supporting their students to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to enable a sustainable future. Students are given responsibility as road safety officers encouraging active travel and as classroom eco monitors responsible for recycling and switching off lights and much more.
They were also very active during COP26, have contributed to Glasgow’s Children and Young People’s Climate Charter and even got to the final of Glasgow’s Social Enterprise Dragon’s Den event with a presentation on climate justice. It’s all these small changes that schools can make that can add up to a big difference.”
All the initiatives that the school runs are student led, often collaborating with other local schools, councils, community members and organisations.
The rate of Let’s Go Zero sign-ups is increasing daily, as young people and their teachers are seeking ways to respond proactively to the climate challenge.
Global Action Plan is a Let’s Go Zero coalition organisation and provides a wealth of resources for teachers on incorporating climate action into their school management and curriculum through their Transform Our World project.
Lucy Archer, senior programme manager – youth and schools at Global Action Plan said: “In just over twelve months, with the incredible commitment of these 1000 plus schools, Let’s Go Zero has turned into a framework for climate action across the nation. We’ve seen that there is definitely demand for climate action in all educational settings across the nation.”
IKEA UK has recently come on board as a Let’s Go Zero partner and will be mobilising its co-workers and customers to engage with local schools and encourage them to sign up to Let’s Go Zero.
Marsha Smith, country deputy retail manager at IKEA UK and IE said: “I’m thrilled that Let’s Go Zero has reached 1,000 school sign-ups in such a short space of time and I look forward to seeing this movement grow even further over the coming months.
“At IKEA, we’re committed to having a positive impact on people and the planet, and to using our passion and expertise to help inspire healthier and more sustainable living not only in our homes – but in our schools and communities as well.”