The charter is a springboard for all schools and colleges to work from regardless of where on the journey to sustainability they are. It is not a definitive guide to the solutions or an off-the-shelf plan but a source of inspiration to catalyse climate action. It is not a scheme to take the place of other initiatives such as Eco-Schools or teaching the Sustainable Development Goals. Instead, those programmes can be included in your Climate Action Plan and be used to compliment the goals you set. Discover the full, illustrated Waltham Forest Schools & Colleges Climate Charter.
Everyone in the school community can play their part from reducing the carbon footprint of the school operations, to learning about climate change and the intersecting social and environmental issues. To better guide everyone within the school community, action suggestions and recommendations are organised into three groups: Senior Leadership teams and Governors, School Business managers and estates teams and Teachers and learners
There are two components to the charter
Global: According to Professor Jim Skea, co-chair of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 report, “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C.” Greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and reduce by 43% by 2030. We need to move swiftly to a low-carbon society, but it will require an enormous effort by governments, businesses and individuals.
National: In April 2022 the Department for Education published the policy paper 'Sustainability and climate change: a strategy for the education and children’s services system'. The policy paper sets out actions for reducing the environmental footprint of education settings through four strategic areas in the drive to achieve net zero by 2050.
Local: Waltham Forest Council has recently set out it’s ambitious plan to reach Net Zero by 2030. It puts the consideration of young people at the heart of decisions, as they will be the ones whose futures will be most impacted by a changing climate and emerging green economy. The Waltham Forest Climate Action Plan includes steps to reduce the carbon footprint of the boroughs school estates through practical measures.
It is a best estimate of the total amount of greenhouse gases released by the production, use and disposal of something. It can be calculated for almost anything; a whole country or a packet of crisps. Like financial cost, items and activities have a carbon cost. However, this cost is spread across the globe. It is essential we all get in the habit of thinking about the carbon cost of things and reducing our carbon outgoings.What are greenhouse gases?
The major greenhouse gases named in the Climate Change Act 2008 are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorocarbons known as F gases. They contribute to the greenhouse effect - they absorb infrared radiation, trapping heat within the atmosphere. Without some greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth's surface would be about −18 °C, rather than the present average of 15 °C.
To ‘go net zero’ is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible and to ensure that any unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions are balanced out by removing them from the atmosphere. The nature-based approach to this requires halting deforestation and draining of wetlands as well as large-scale tree planting and ecosystem restoration.
Human activities since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (around 1750) have increased the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by over 50%. Pre-industry levels are taken as the baseline for measuring global temperature increase. The aim is to keep temperatures to less than 1.5C above those levels in order to limit the worsening impacts of climate change.