Support for Schools to become Net Zero

Monday, 29 June 2020

53 leading environment and education organisations have today written to the Chancellor calling for a Green Recovery for Education.


NGOs include many environment organisations (including Woodcraft Folk, the UK Student Climate Network, The Wildlife Trusts and RSPB) and education organisations (including the National Education Union, the National Union of Students, the Universities and Colleges Union, and the Association of Colleges).


They are echoing calls on the government to make substantial investments into the UK education estate by retrofitting it to a net-zero standard through fiscal stimulus and in line with the net-zero by 2050 commitment. They want the government to ensure that all new state-funded educational buildings are net-zero from 2022 and all existing state-funded educational buildings are retrofitted to net-zero by 2030.


Zamzam Ibrahim, 26, President of the National Union of Students says: “Young people have suffered some of the greatest impacts from this lockdown, with our educational and career prospects put at risk. The government should do the right thing and make sure that post-COVID investment doesn’t leave us behind but instead improves our education.”


Scarlett Westbrook, 15, from the UK Student Climate Network says: “During the election, the Conservatives committed to 'levelling up' the country. Investing in retrofitting all education buildings to net-zero emissions will create tens of thousands of green jobs, ensure investment is spread across the country, help stimulate the UK economy, reduce the UK's carbon emissions, and inspire students to live more sustainably - helping fulfil this manifesto promise. We look forward to being invited by Mr Sunak to discuss this matter further.”


Craig Bennett, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts says: “Wilder, green spaces that bring people closer to nature at our places of learning must become the norm. Young people around the world feel under pressure to save the planet and we need to give them reasons for optimism and hope. Our schools, universities and colleges should be at least net-zero in their carbon emissions and they should be helping nature too. We cannot tackle the climate crisis without tackling the nature crisis – the two are inseparable.


Ana Musat, Policy Manager at Aldersgate Group, a multi-stakeholder alliance composed of some of the largest businesses in the UK with a collective global turnover in excess of £550bn, says: “An economic recovery package with climate and environmental provisions at its heart is key to address important social and economic issues. A sustainable, resilient recovery can help tackle the growing levels of inequality in health, incomes and productivity, and programmes like nationwide energy efficiency retrofits are a great example of shovel-ready projects that can have multiple benefits. Not only would these reduce emissions from buildings and create jobs right across the country which are less susceptible to offshoring, they would also reduce energy bills and foster more comfortable living and working environments. Prioritising energy efficiency retrofits in educational estates will see these benefits materialising for a segment of the population severely impacted by the pandemic, especially when considering the way this crisis will shape their future employment prospects.”


You can read the letter, and see the full list of signatories, here.