At Herts for Learning (HfL), we have prioritised action on climate change as a core part of our business. The COP26 summit in Glasgow provides an ideal opportunity to reiterate our commitment to doing our part to help tackle the climate emergency.
Governments must make bold choices at the summit, but organisations and individuals must all take action too. Humanity has run down the clock on climate change, and we owe it to the young people we support to act before it is too late. We believe that all young people, through access to a great education, should be able to achieve their potential, regardless of where they live or their circumstances and background. Yet, young people today will bear the brunt of the climate emergency, and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged will often be the most impacted. This is why we have put the climate emergency at the heart of our CSR strategy.
In our role as the UK’s largest School Company, supporting over 3000 schools, trusts and settings across England, our commitment to tackling the climate emergency is two-fold:
- within our own organisation, prioritising the actions we must take to achieve our target of hitting carbon neutrality by 2030 at the latest and to offsetting our emissions in the intervening period
- supporting schools, settings and trusts to reduce their carbon footprint, to inspire young minds and to instil positive behaviours and environmental stewardship
Working with an independent auditor, we have verified our carbon footprint and have entered into a partnership with established Scottish conservation charity, Trees for Life, to offset these emissions through the planting of trees as part of a major rewilding project in the Scottish Highlands.
By consolidating the shift to remote delivery of our training and other services, reducing the use of office space, minimising non-essential travel and inspiring our staff in mitigating their own environmental impact, we will continue to reduce our emissions further and are committed to achieving our carbon neutral target by 2030, if not sooner.
Supporting schools, settings and trusts
We believe that within schools, settings and trusts, effective action on climate change starts with school leaders. When leaders are inspired to take positive action, they can inspire the whole community. This leadership must start with governors and trustees. Even while school leaders grapple with the continued impact of the COVID pandemic, we owe it to all young people to take action now to reduce the impact of schools on climate change.
Schools, settings and trusts have a major role to play in addressing the emergency, both through making tangible reductions to their carbon footprint, and as educators able to shape and inspire the next generation – not just among learners, but also parents and the wider community. Schools can set an example in the community, helping all of society to visualise and realise a future based on a reduced carbon footprint. HfL is well positioned to collate best practice from Hertfordshire and beyond, and to provide the tools and resources schools, settings and trusts may find helpful in setting their path to reducing their carbon footprint and engaging with the young people in their care.
Through our own direct actions, and the support we provide to schools, settings and trusts, we will continue to prioritise action on the climate emergency and challenge ourselves to help achieve carbon neutrality at the earliest possible date.