With young people’s voices playing a key role in tackling the climate emergency, we have made greening schools a top priority for our administration. Their enthusiasm can clearly be seen in Bristol Youth Council’s Environment and Transport group survey results, which recorded over 1,300 responses from young people keen to promote sustainable transport. Listening and developing their ideas is key to setting up future generations for success, and we will continue to work with young people towards a better and more sustainable Bristol.
We were the first city to declare an Ecological Emergency. Since then, we have focused on delivering ambitious green policies and goals, such as setting a ground-breaking goal of becoming carbon neutral and climate resilient city by 2030. We know this is an ambitious challenge and will involve the action of everyone in the city, including our schools.
Our Schools Energy Efficiency Scheme has helped support local schools to cut carbon over the last 3 years. We have invested £1.3 million in 30 schools and this will save a staggering 6,320 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 10 years, equivalent to 1,150 homes’ electricity use for one year. This has complemented our work connecting our schools to Bristol’s Heat Network, a £6.9 million project which provides local businesses, organisations, and housing with heat and power from more sustainable sources.
Oasis Community Learning, and their partner, Eden Sustainable, have done some fantastic work towards our shared goals. Oasis John Williams, their school in Hengrove, has recently installed 408 solar panels on the roof, which will produce free electricity and help support Bristol becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030.
Equally, it has been gratifying to see the enthusiasm across the city for the Bristol School Streets pilots, which have not only been designed to reduce the volume of traffic around school gates, but also to improve the air quality around schools as we work with communities towards Liveable Neighbourhood schemes.
We work with schools to encourage sustainable lifestyles and reduce vehicle traffic through a range of options. This includes ‘Bikeability‘ training for pupils, setting up park and strides, providing parking buddies to help keep the school entrances clear, providing signage such as ‘Show you care, park elsewhere’ and delivering road safety education.
We know that the challenges that face us in terms of living more sustainably will be there for years to come. Therefore, we want to build long-term, sustainable solutions. That’s why we have also been encouraging schools to get students involved in developing their own ideas for being greener, such as installing smart meters or turning waste into wildlife habitats. One example of this is the Bristol Education Partnership Climate Challenge, which brings together schools with colleges and universities to address the climate crisis.
So as we look to the year ahead for our schools, we would like to thank them for their engagement as we move towards our goal of carbon neutrality. Through changes to the curriculum, travel, and building infrastructure, they are helping us to take significant steps forward as a city – and setting a brilliant example while doing it.