The Skywriter

Guest blog: Put the kids in charge of climate


Guest blog: Put the kids in charge of climate

-- Post written by New York City Climate Precinct Captain Emily A. Fano.

I’m tired of fat cat bureaucrats and politicians gambling away our survival. Aren’t you? Copenhagen was a let-down, despite an impressive and coordinated effort by the global climate action movement. The deals hammered out in the UN talks would let CO2 increase well above the 350 ppm -- the magic number to avoid catastrophe. Not good.

That’s why I’m putting my money on kids to solve this thing. After all, their future is at stake; and they’ve been watching the adults in the room act like children, so they’ve figured it’s time to take charge! And I say thank goodness. Child-led climate movements and initiatives are springing up everywhere, including in schools.

My children's’ public elementary school -- PS 166 -- is one of 124 schools in 21 states participating in the 4th annual Green Cup Challenge (GCC) - an inter-school energy conservation competition sponsored by the Green Schools Alliance. The GCC helps schools measure their buildings' energy use and find ways to reduce it. According to an April 2007 report released by New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, buildings account for 79% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. Most school buildings run on some combination of electricity, oil and natural gas.

Cutting a building’s energy use therefore, not only saves thousands of dollars in utility costs, it cuts greenhouse gases.

Kids understand this concept very well and are eager to act on it. Rather than arguing endlessly about future energy reduction targets, or wasting reams of paper on watered down policy documents, top-performing GCC schools have implemented building-wide efficiencies and achieved 18% energy reductions. Last year, 120 schools in 24 states participated in the GCC and saved 2.5 million pounds of carbon: that’s like taking 220 cars off the road for one year!

PS 166 is hoping to reduce its energy consumption by 10% this year and has outlined steps detailing how it’s going to go about it.

There are some 132,600 schools in this country alone. Can you imagine the positive impact that an international school-based energy conservation movement could have on our planet?

The Green Schools Alliance is encouraging interested schools to sign up for the GCC. It’s not too late! Come on kids! I’m counting on you!

Emily A. Fano is a volunteer Climate Precinct Captain in New York State.
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