By Deborah Moore from the The California School Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative (SEHAC) QuickNews | http://bit.ly/1ImP4WB
November 2015 :: With one in five Californians spending their day at a K-12 school, schools can be a powerful sector in transforming community sustainability practices, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting children's health, and teaching climate and environmental literacy. The California State PTA and the American Academy of Pediatrics both issued calls to action this year recognizing children's special vulnerabilities to climate change, including heat-related illness, air pollution, and asthma.
California has set ambitious goals for sustainable communities, reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and making communities more resilient to a warming climate. California cannot achieve these goals without the participation of the state's 10,300 public K-12 schools. Investments in green, sustainable schools should be a key strategy. For example, California Department of Education Green Ribbon School awardees are exemplary models of integrated sustainability programs that are diverting upwards of 50% of their waste, reducing their carbon footprints 10-30%, promoting transit and Safe Routes to Schools, creating green schoolyards and infrastructure, conserving water and energy, and engaging students, teachers, and staff in hands-on sustainability education and behaviors that ripple throughout the community.
Yet, the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) proposed Three Year Investment Plan governing the allocations of the $1 billion cap-and-trade program's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund does little to support the development of sustainable schools - in fact, they are excluded from nearly all of the grant programs. Without a more explicit role for schools included in the investment plan, the state will lose opportunities to invest in projects at schools.
Twenty-eight education, health, environment, and green school organizations and individuals representing more than 1.6 million parents, students, school board members, and nearly all 1,000 school districts in California - signed a joint letter urging CARB to prioritize school investments that could save millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by schools and improve health and academic achievement.
If you are interested in joining efforts to support funding for green, healthy, and sustainable schools, contact Deborah Moore of Green Schools Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org