Living and thinking sustainably


This article was originally published in the Old Bedalian Newsletter 2020.

The whole school community has been doing more to reuse, reduce and recycle in the wake of the climate change campaign that has been dominating the streets and the media, drawing attention to the urgency of the global changes that need to be made.

Bedales hosted a ‘Funeral for the Planet’ earlier this year, where a climate emergency was announced. The event was organised by Bedales Head of Geography Paul Turner, who became one of the UK’s first United Nations-accredited climate change teachers. Bedales’ Geography department has also recently launched the UK’s first climate breakdown scheme of work, collaborating with other teachers and organisations.

Following this, a group of 60 students joined a climate change protest in March, marching from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace and were encouraged by the amount of support they received from tourists, construction workers and even police officers. Students took part in more protests in Petersfield and in London, with a small group attending a symposium on climate change at the London School of Economics. A number of speakers were present including Lord Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, who addressed the question of, ‘What should individuals, communities, schools and universities do to stop climate change?’

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Bedales attend climate change symposium at LSE


By Olivia Grout-Smith, 6.2

Last Friday, a group of students was lucky enough to attend a symposium held at the London School of Economics (LSE) with the leading question ‘What should individuals, communities, schools and universities in the UK do to stop climate change?’ Following a very rousing morning at the climate strike at Petersfield’s Market Square, our spirits were high as we headed to London for the symposium.

Lord Stern of Brentford, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, was the first speaker. He addressed the question ‘What should we do to stop climate change while raising living standards in the UK and around the world?’ Highlighting the extreme importance of radical change amongst society as a whole, he began by saying that the world economy will double in two decades. In order to reduce two degrees, we must cut emissions by 40 percent.

Two more speakers, one a Camden politician and the other a member of the Women’s Institute, both expressed the importance of change in both local communities and beyond. The second half of the event was a 40 minute panel Q&A, addressing the question ‘What should individuals, communities, schools and universities in the UK do to stop climate change?’

In order to make actual change within schools, universities and colleges, the importance of education about the climate crisis within the curriculum was a key point. Though many students decide to take Geography GCSE and A Level, the majority do not. Another idea was to install a carbon offset scheme, so when students travel by plane or another environmentally damaging mode of transport, they can balance out the impact on the environment.

We came away from the symposium with a true feeling of inspiration and pride. One of the last speakers, Naomi Oreskes from Harvard University, made a very true statement about how, as a school or as individuals, we can change. She expressed that when we make statements or propositions for the future, we are sometimes criticised for being ‘unrealistic’. It is those unrealistic goals that drive social change and innovation that lead to a positive impact.