Calgary Schools for Climate Action
"I have been impressed with the leadership demonstrated by ACEE and the City of Calgary in convening meetings and engaging the committee in articulating a vision with clear objectives and developing a preliminary action plan...There is a clear appetite on the part of Calgary’s K-12 school community to be part of the climate solution and this project offers a tangible and coordinated approach that engages the entire school community."- Jodie Walz, Calgary Catholic School District Elementary Science Consultant
What is Calgary Schools for Climate Action?
Calgary Schools for Climate Action (CSCA) is an invitation to Calgary’s K-12 school community to engage in local, yet globally referenced, climate education, action, and citizenship using the City’s Climate Resilience Strategy, the EcoSchools Canada environmental certification program, and the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 as visions and organizing frameworks.
The CSCA is a framework that builds on existing climate education and action programs currently available to Calgary teachers to foster a common sense of purpose and civic pride and most importantly, help instill hope for the future through purposeful action. As Dr. David Orr so eloquently put it: "Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up".
- Engage the school community in effective climate action that supports climate action frameworks at multiple scales (local to global);
- Advance literacy around environment, energy and climate;
- Foster responsible environmental and global citizenship.
Where Does Climate Education and Action Tie Into the Curriculum?
It ties in everywhere. As Margaret Atwood has said “Climate Change is Everything Change” – and our analysis of curriculum shows that climate education and action is something that all teachers at all grade levels and topics can do with their students. Not only that - we show teachers how to address this topic with success in a city and a province where our prosperity owes much to the oil and gas industry.
We owe it to students to teach them about how environment, energy, and climate - which is why we've developed our vision for environmental education shown below.
How Can I Get Involved?
There are at least four ways teachers and schools can become part of Calgary Schools for Climate Action:
- Help us test our proposed framework and resources during the 2019-20 school year.
- Register to take part in our pilot year, starting September 2020.
- Invite us to deliver in-house professional learning sessions at your school;
- Join our working group and be directly involved in the development of this initiative. We are particularly interested in adding school administrator and Indigenous perspectives to our work.
To learn more or to express an interest, please contact Marie Tremblay at email@example.com.
What Do We Hope to Accomplish This Year?
This year, the focus of Climate Schools for Climate Action will be on program development, marketing, and testing. Thanks to the generous support of our funders identified below, we will:
- Develop a simple framework to enable students to identify and implement tangible school-level climate action plans that are linked to the City of Calgary’s Climate Resilience Strategy, EcoSchools Canada certification program, and the Sustainable Development Goals. These student-led action plans will allow schools to:
- establish a baseline of school-related GHG emissions, climate literacy levels, and behaviours;
- identify environmental impact, literacy, and behavioural targets;
- prioritize actions to reach identified targets,
- track and report progress against stated targets
- celebrate success
- Pilot the CSCA program and materials with up to 10 Calgary-based schools.
- Engage at least 100 teachers in professional development opportunities to build their foundational knowledge of climate change and the City’s Climate Resilience Strategy and especially, show them how they and their students can be part of the climate solution.
- Engage at least 3000 students in student-led climate action that aligns with Calgary's Climate Resilience Strategy;
- Reach out to Calgary school board and school administrators to garner system-wide support for the initiative;
- Engage other environmental education providers in linking their climate-related programs to this broader framework, to help develop a common sense of purpose and contribute to meaningful collective action.
Collaborative - Build on, rather than replace, existing climate education and action programs;
Real-world - Link to broader initiatives (e.g. Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy, EcoSchools Canada, U.N. Sustainable Development Goals) to provide authentic contexts and visions, at multiple scales;
Student-led - Students create and implement age-appropriate climate action plans with the support of the entire school community including teachers, school administrators, facility managers, and parents;
Curriculum-linked - Support teachers in delivering on the curriculum;
Evidence-based - Success is measured using a range of metrics that capture progress in terms of environmental impact (e.g. GHG emissions reductions), student learning (e.g. climate and energy literacy), and climate-friendly behaviours (e.g. turning lights and electronics off when not in use);
Flexible - Schools develop their own climate action plans that align with their own opportunities, priorities and interests;
Why Should Calgary Schools Get Involved in Climate Action?
Climate change is increasingly viewed as the most serious and pressing issue of our time, not only radically altering our environment but posing an unprecedented threat to humanity itself. Calgarians are increasingly impacted by climate change as floods, smoke from wildfires, heat waves, and droughts become part of our everyday reality.
In recognition of the seriousness and urgency of the rapidly escalating climate crisis, the City of Calgary’s city council unanimously adopted, in 2018, the Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy. The Strategy includes close to 250 actions organized into broad themes and sets a target of reducing city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
As some of the city’s top real estate holders, Calgary’s major school boards are uniquely positioned to implement many of these actions and help the city meet its ambitious emissions reduction target.
Why Should Environmental Education Providers Get Involved?
The Calgary Schools for Climate Action initiative does not seek to replace any of the excellent programs that already exist to support Calgary teachers in engaging their students in climate education and action. Rather, this initiative seeks only to provide an authentic context and vision for meaningful collective action - such as to build a common sense of purpose, community pride in being part of the climate solution, and instilling hope for the future. After all, action begets hope!
Our hope is by creating a common framework and path forward that all schools can seen themselves in, we will elevate the profile of climate education and action and thus, increase overall demand for the many existing programs that support this.
Who is Already Involved in Calgary Schools for Climate Action?
The Calgary Schools for Climate Action initiative is spearheaded by the Alberta Council for Environmental Education and the City of Calgary. A multi-stakeholder working group was created in the spring 2019 and includes representation from the following organizations:
- City of Calgary
- Alberta Council for Environmental Education
- Calgary Board of Education
- Calgary Separate School Division
- Calgary Regional Consortium
- Calgary City Teachers’ Convention Association
- University of Calgary
Climate Education Resources for Teachers
To access valuable resources to help increase climate literacy, click here.
Also, check out our Energy Revealed, which helps students visualize school energy use and take actions to conserve energy.
Last but not least, our Energy Transition Game helps students discover what it will take to shift to a lower carbon energy system.
We are grateful to The Calgary Foundation, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation, Alberta Ecotrust, and Energy Efficiency Alberta for their support of this program. We invite other organizations to support this important work - please contact our Executive Director Gareth [at] abcee.org to discuss.