UK school’s climate policy: 2022 Update so far

UK school’s climate policy

In April, the Department for Education launched its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. While this strategy included many positive new policies called for by the Let’s Go Zero campaign, it missed some big opportunities. 

The strategy is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough, fast enough, in the context of a climate emergency. We welcome many aspects of the strategy, such as making sure every school has a Climate Action Plan and Sustainability Lead and includes sustainability and climate change in teacher training. These key policies were put forward by Let’s Go Zero, which provided input to the Department of Education on the strategy.  

But the strategy won’t help schools decarbonise quickly. In 2022/23 we will work with the Department of Education in order to get its commitment to other key Let’s Go Zero policy asks, including to an urgent retrofit of the school estate – making buildings more energy efficient to lower emissions and fuel bills, and inspire the students that learn in them.   

We know what solutions are needed, and that the funding exists to make them a reality around the country. Taking funded action now will boost local businesses, create new jobs, and support the government’s net zero and levelling-up targets.  

Policy overview:  

The following Let’s Go Zero recommendations that have been included in the strategy:  

  • Government ensures there is investment in training teachers in education for sustainable development across the curriculum, and in equipping colleges and schools to give all learners a connection to nature  
  • Every school should have a trained staff member take on the role of Sustainability Lead. 
  • The government has also pledged that all schools will have a climate action plan – this is a welcome step, but there was no promise of funding to fulfil these plans, something we urge the government to fix.  
  • The Department for Education commits to improving their building specifications, so that all new school buildings from 2022 onwards will be net zero carbon. (It should be noted that this Lets’ Go Zero recommendation was already agreed to before the publication of the strategy.)

 

And in other important areas, we are still waiting for action.  

Let’s Go Zero will continue working with government to reach these goals: 

  • The government commits to all UK schools being zero carbon by 2030 and announces long term and consistent policies and funding to enable this.   
  • The government commits to investing in adapting and retrofitting the school estate  
  • By 2025, every school is mandated to have a funded Climate Action Plan that provides step by step guidance cutting through the current complicated procedures that will result in zero carbon status.  (It should be noted, that while the Department for Education has agreed to this recommendation in principle in the strategy, it has not yet agreed to it being funded. Therefore we will continue to campaign for funded Climate Action Plans)  
  • Sustainability to be embedded as a statutory feature of careers guidance in UK schools by 2025  

 

The power of our policy work comes from sharing the views and experiences of schools, teachers and students. Our link to classrooms is why government has worked with us in 2021/22 and will continue to do so in the future. 

The bigger our campaign grows, the louder our voice will be. So, if you know a school that hasn’t signed up yet, please tell them about Let’s Go Zero. And if you’re already supporting Let’s Go Zero, look out for opportunities to influence our policy work in 2022/23 and beyond. 

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