Attending COP21 in Paris as an Education Ambassador was quite the opportunity to participate in a historic world event that will continue to be talked about for years to come. As with any big event, participants often return home full of energy and ready to ramp up their individual commitments to the cause. In this case, the participant is me and the cause is global climate change.
Just what could I commit to doing as an Education Ambassador to help maintain the momentum generated at COP21? Well, on the last day of our trip, the entire group of us sat down to discuss this idea. Prior to leaving for Paris, I had been selected as a recipient of a NOAA grant as part of their Climate Change Stewards program. My fifth grade students will begin working on a program in early 2016 to move their families away from the use of disposable shopping bags and towards the use of reusable shopping bags. In the process, we will be looking at ways to reduce carbon footprints. Originally, my work with climate change would have ended there, but after experiencing firsthand the melting icebergs on the plaza outside the Pantheon, hearing an array of Indigenous people talk about the current imperiled state of their countries, and discussing the need for climate change standards in both US schools and French schools, I have set my sights higher.
My goal is now to direct my students towards more active participation in local and national discussions on our developing policies towards climate change mitigation. We will do this by writing to government officials. On a more local bent, my school has a recycling program that would benefit from a jolt of freshness.Toward that end, I plan to meet with my headmaster to discuss ways to enrich our “green” program as a means not only to educate our students but also to lessen our collective impact on our planet.