Ashden's zero carbon 2030 journey

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

This email arrived on Wednesday

Dear Bill,

Lots of us remember the misery of a dreary, draughty classroom, or struggling to keep our eyes open in overheated, stuffy rooms. But inefficient school buildings and heating don’t only make lessons uncomfortable – they waste school resources and drive up carbon emissions.

That’s why we’ve launched the Let’s Go Zero campaign – helping UK schools be zero carbon by 2030. By joining the campaign, schools pledge to work towards that goal (and call for government action too). There’s support and expert advice for all schools taking part – help with everything from improving buildings and heating to cutting food waste, encouraging greener journeys, improving biodiversity on school grounds and much more.

Why are we buzzing about Let’s Go Zero? Because we know that schools don’t only inspire students – they inspire whole communities. Our classrooms can be beacons of climate action, giving all of society the bright ideas and motivation to act on climate. It’s crucial we build momentum before next year’s COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, when the eyes of the world will be on the UK.

The campaign is off to a great start, with schools across the UK signing up and national media coverage – we’ve even put the spotlight on Yorkshire’s own Greta Thunberg.  So if you’re a parent, teacher, governor or councillor in the UK, or have professional and personal connections that could help, please ask your local school to join the campaign. Young people are demanding climate action – together we can give them the green schools and communities they deserve.

Harriet Lamb, Ashden CEO


I (obviously, I hope) don't object to the expressed aim here, and hope that schools will sign up, it's just that I think it's unrealistic to achieve this by 2030, given where we are now, the size of the educational estate, and the legacy of historic building.  In the FAQs on their website, Ashden says:

"Let’s Go Zero brings together UK schools who want to be zero carbon, are reducing their own climate impact, and demanding greater UK government support to achieve this goal. The campaign will show national government that there is a substantial demand amongst teachers and pupils to become zero carbon, with the potential for schools to catalyse wider change in their communities."

Another FAQ suggests that it's "the journey" that's important here, not really the destination:

"By joining the campaign, a school is publicly declaring that they want to be zero carbon by 2030, and that it wants the UK government to enable schools in the UK to take more action on this issue.  This campaign is about showing aspiration.  We know that being zero carbon is currently beyond the reach of most schools, but by working together and with government we believe it is achievable by 2030.  To be part of the campaign, schools are expected to be taking action to reduce their carbon impact, measuring this where feasible, and have ‘next step’ actions planned for the following year.  They can indicate the steps they are taking from a checklist on the sign-up form."

But the slogan "zero carbon by 2030" suggests it's the destination that matters just as much as (if not more so than) the journey.  I can't be the only person who thinks the unachievability of this is a problem.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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