Dulwich College Launches No Carbon November around COP

From 1-12 November many world leaders will meet in Glasgow for COP26, which is essentially THE critical conference on climate change and climate action. Leading up to this summit, the most recent IPCCC report was released prompting the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, to state that the planet is in 'code red' for taking action on climate change.


So, what does this mean for our family of schools, our staff and of course most importantly, our students? Educating for a sustainable future is the new and important mission for the Dulwich College International family of schools. We are already making steady progress infusing our lesson, events and classrooms with the lens of sustainability and global perspectives supported by our Global Citizenship Champions and Sustainability and Service Leads. 


However, to put an extra spotlight on sustainability for our schools, as the world will do for COP26, we are launching No Carbon November. Whilst it is impossible at this stage to be truly no carbon, we will be offering a variety of opportunities for our students and the school community at large to engage with sustainability throughout the month of November. Just a few years ago we received the Guinness world record for the largest environmental sustainability lesson, and this year we aim to take that lesson and spread it across the entire month of November.


One example of this is our No Carbon November Daily Actions chart, which encourages our community members to make Teaspoons of Change (small but significant ideas and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet) each day in November - and hopefully beyond. Some schools or staff will also take on the NO-CARbon Adventure Challenge, going on a sustainability treasure hunt where the aim is not to complete it in the fastest time, but with the lowest carbon footprint possible. 


These ideas and actions send important signals to ourselves and our community; demonstrating that we are connected to the world through our understanding and actions. In my opinion, at an individual level, what is needed most to help mitigate climate change is to:

  1. Believe our actions matter;
  2. Know our actions have impacts;
  3. Challenge ourselves to learn and make choices that are sustainable as much as possible, and;
  4. Be resolute that our individual actions, when taken by lots of people, can equal big changes

The only 100% guarantee we have is that if we take no action, nothing can improve!


At a school and group level, we have two major projects and processes adding to our impact on sustainability;

- ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) reporting
- Carbon mapping

By the end of this academic year we aim to have all schools across the Education in Motion (EiM) group complete the carbon mapping process. This will allow us to fully understand and quantify our emissions footprint. We can then use that data to prioritise actions that will have the greatest impact work towards our goal of carbon neutrality and start to set science-based targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement, just as some of our governments (China - peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2060) and the growing business community are committing to. 


On Earth Day 2022 (22 April) we aim to release our first ESG report highlighting what we are doing well in sustainability and importantly, what more we need to be doing. Essential to these two processes is involving our students, so as to enhance their sustainability literacy and competency; helping them develop knowledge and skills today that will serve them in the future. ESG is not only the right way forward for our planet, but is also increasingly essential in the business world. Our students are developing the skills that will help them knock the socks off universities and prospective employers, as they move towards becoming the leaders of the future.


We are very lucky to be members of a big family of schools who are all aiming to do more in the sustainability space. We have a unique opportunity to combine our group and individual actions to make a positive difference towards the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and the planet. We have the opportunity to be pioneers and leaders in the pre-tertiary education sector, bringing others along with us to produce students and teachers who Live Worldwise and can make a positive contribution both today and in the future.


I believe the most important objectives and outcomes from our spotlight on sustainability through No Carbon November are to have higher quality questions, conversations and connections to climate action. Follow COP26 and see what they say, but most importantly add a green lens to your life and your daily personal Teaspoons of Change. Feel energised about how we as individuals, families, schools and as a group of schools, can make a positive impact on the planet!