Westchester Green County USA

Goal #1

Go Global: Sign Dual UNFCCC/Let’s Go Zero Pledge 

Pledge #1:  UNFCCC Annual Program to become Climate Neutral Now (CNN) 

Step #1:  Measuring your Carbon Footprint

Step #2:  Reducing your Carbon Footprint

Step #3:  Offsetting or Compensating for your Carbon Footprint

Step #4:  Use this Process as a Teachable Moment 


Goal #2

Go Local: Build Network of Eco-Literate Students/Educators

Pledge #2:  Let’s Go Zero 10 Year Pledge 

Understanding Climate Change Science  

Westchester Best Practice Youth Conference September 25 and 26 


Addendum

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • Let’s Go Zero Campaign 
  • The Most Amazing thing Humanity has ever Done!!

Westchester Green County USA 

Addressing sustainability and climate change will very likely be one of the seminal challenges of our student’s lifetimes.   The sooner we get them thinking about and understanding the comprehensive dimensions of this challenge the better.    

In view of this imperative, One World has teamed up with Westchester County in an effort to generate a grassroots campaign here in Westchester we are calling Green County USA.    The goal of the education component of this campaign will be to mobilize Westchester schools – educators and students – to address the climate challenge by working globally and locally at the same time.    

First on the global level we are encouraging schools to sign a dual pledge sponsored by both the UNFCCC and the UK Climate Change Champion.    Second on the local level we plan to generate a concerted, coherent effort to help Westchester students become among the most Eco Literate in the world by bringing together environmental clubs and environmental educators from across Westchester.  

Pillar #1:  Go Global: Sign Dual UNFCCC/Let’s Go Zero Pledge 

The Green County USA dual-pledge involves an initial pledge to become Climate Neutral Now (CNN) on an annual basis by working with the group at the UN that oversees the Paris Agreement – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).   This UN group is also in charge of encouraging schools and other small enterprises to become Climate Neutral Now via a three part program described below.   

The second part of our dual-pledge involves the Let’s Go Zero campaign that has been launched in the United Kingdom this year with the goal of encouraging 5,000 schools to adopt a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030.   Westchester County is the first place in the world outside of the UK where this campaign is being launched.   (Please see Annexe II for a description of this process.) 

Imagine for one second what kind of a message it sends to the world if every school in Westchester signed our dual-pledge committing to become climate neutral now and carbon neutral by 2030.   Clearly we would be well on our way to being recognized as Green County USA!!

Pledge #1:  UNFCCC Annual Program to become Climate Neutral Now (CNN) 

Our goal is to encourage as many Westchester schools as possible to become Climate Neutral Now.  The Climate Neutral Now process is relatively straight forward and involves 3 basic steps:

1.       Measure your Carbon Footprint

2.       Reduce your Carbon Footprint where possible. 

3.       Offset or comensate that part of your Carbon Footprint you cannot eliminate. 

Step #1:  Measuring your Carbon Footprint

To measure your carbon footprint the UNFCCC has developed a GHG emissions calculator specifically for schools.   The UNFCCC has shared with One World both the calculator and a presentation that describes how to use the calculator that we will make available on our website.   Once you input the data in the calculator, the calculator will automatically determine your GHG emissions.  

One World Volunteer Opportunity:   Learn how to use the UNFCCC calculator so that you can advise schools on how to use it. 

 Step #2:  Reducing your Carbon Footprint

An important part of this annual process is to develop a plan to reduce your carbon footprint where possible each year.   As part of this process the UNFCCC asks that you commit to reduce carbon emissions where possible, over the course of the year; using actions like replacing light bulbs with LEDs, reducing waste, improving recycling etc.    Schools might also want to consider One World’s Eco Passport project.

The UNFCCC presentation UNFCCC – reduction explains the rational schools should apply in looking to reduce their carbon footprint.    It is important to point out that this is an annual process and as such the UNFCCC does expect schools to eliminate their GHG emissions overnight.   The goal is to reduce progressively each year.  

Step #3:  Offsetting or Compensating for your Carbon Footprint

For those emissions schools cannot eliminate the UNFCCC has set up a process whereby you offset those emissions by participating in their global offset program by investing in CERs or Certified Emission Reductions.   The monies your school contributes to the UNFCCC offset program are used to invest in green projects in emerging nations where capital to invest green from day one is not always available.

Schools are encouraged to offset your emissions and invest in one of the green projects identified and vetted by the UN using this link:  https://offset.climateneutralnow.org/     

One World is supportive of the offset mechanism as it addresses on of the fundamental challenges facing humanity as we undertake to address this global problem.  Nations are at fundamentally different stages of their development.   As a result per capita GHG emissions vary dramatically from country to country.   According to the Union of Concerned Scientists the US emits more than 8x as much GHG emissions on a per capita basis as India which is at a different stage of economic development. 

RankCountryCO 2 Per Capita


Emmissions 




1China10.06GT7.05T
2United States5.41GT16.56T
3India2.65GT1.96T
https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions

An important feature of the UNFCCC offset program is that it addresses this disparity by encouraging the distribution of funds from wealthier countries to countries on the road to development.    

One World Step #4:  Use this Process as a Teachable Moment 

Schools need to be proactive in turning this process into a learning exercise for their student scholars as the calculation and offset process could be done with limited student participation. 

In the past One World has involved students by asking them to choose the project for the offset.   We generally then reveal the results of the offset contest at a school-wide or grade-wide assembly.   At that assembly we generally provide a brief overview of the climate change challenge and then add geography and science components to the lesson where we explain there the project is located and what it has been designed to achieve.    We also often take advantage of the assembly to introduce the 17 SDG goals of the UN for 2030.

The Port Chester School District became the first school district in the US to work with the UNFCCC to become Climate Neutral.   

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/education/2019/12/10/port-chester-schools-first-us-neutralize-carbon-un-program/4320063002/

Pledge #2:  Let’s Go Zero 10 Year Pledge 

The Let’s Go Zero campaign has chosen Westchester County as the first place in the world outside of the United Kingdom to move forward with this transformative campaign.    Here is how they describe their program: 

 “Educators often ask what are we committing to by signing up for the Let’s Go Zero pledge?

By joining the Let’s Go Zero campaign, a school is publicly declaring that they want to be zero carbon by 2030, and that it wants the relevant governmental entities to enable schools in the their area to take more action on this issue.

This campaign is about showing aspiration. We know that being zero carbon is currently beyond the reach of most schools, but by working together and with government we believe it is achievable by 2030.

To be part of the campaign, schools are expected to be taking action to reduce their carbon impact, measuring this where feasible, and have ‘next step’ actions planned for the following year. They can indicate the steps they are taking from a checklist on the sign-up form.

By joining the campaign, schools commit to telling their students, communities and suppliers that they are part of Let’s Go Zero and aim to be zero carbon by 2030.”

We believe that signing the 10 year Let’s Go Zero pledge is the perfect corollary to the annual Climate Neutral Now pledge as it extends your school’s commitment out over the rest of this decade making it clear that your school is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change in a sustained way over the next 10 years.   

Certificates and Logos Available for your School 

Once you have completed this last step the UNFCCC will send you a Climate Neutral Now certificate confirming your carbon neutral status as well as put your school’s logo on their website alongside other global carbon neutral players.   Similarly, Let’s Go Zero will provide you with a logo for your school once the pledge is taken.   

Pillar #2: Go Local: Build Network of Eco-Literate Students/Educators

The Minister of Future Generations in Wales has stated that she is hopeful that Welsh students become the most Eco Literate students in the world.   We believe there are two important components to becoming Eco Literate one component is to understanding climate change science and a second important component is to understand the human response to climate change. 

Understanding Climate Change Science  

One World has developed proprietary curricula relating to climate change that we share with educators from across the globe.   Our current curricula borrows heavily from Bill Gates’ new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.   However, we want to be clear, we at One World certainly would not want to represent that either ourselves, or Bill Gates for that matter have all of the solutions; for us tackling the science around climate change is a dynamic, shared exercise.   To that end we would like to encourage Westchester environmental educators and students to come together and share best practice educational tools as well as best practice project-based learning by bringing Westchester environmental education and environmental clubs to bear on their communities.   

One area where we believe One World can support schools is in using our network to support schools in their project-based learning efforts.   To that end we have launched this Westchester project where we are encouraging Westchester educators and youth to encourage their schools to partner with the world’s leading environmental leaders by signing the One World dual pledge and at the same time come together to share best practice educational tools to help Westchester youth become among the most Eco Literate students in the USA.   

Westchester Best Practice Youth Conference September 25 and 26 

In recent weeks, One World working with committed youth environmental leaders has begun to pull together a county-wide youth team that will not only encourage Westchester schools to sign the dual pledge but just as importantly bring together environmental clubs, environmental educators and environmental leaders from across the county to share best practice.  

Every school in Westchester County teaches environmental science.   How often do educators break out of their educational silos to share best practice?  How often do those environmental classes break out of their classroom to work with their local municipal sustainability committees to begin to put in place real world environmental solutions?   

Our goal here is to help Westchester students become among the most Eco Literate students in the nation by tapping into the extraordinary educational resource we have here in Westchester County by sharing best practice across schools and school districts.    To that end we will be organizing a best practice educational conference in Westchester in coordination with Climate Week NYC which will take place from September 20 to September 26.  We are tentatively targeting Saturday September 25th and Sunday September 26th for this event.   

Our hope is that Westchester youth actions can become a model for the world.  Indeed, one goal for this conference will be to share best practice youth environmental experience with students from around the world as well as from Westchester. 

Our hope is that this conference will be keynoted with videos from the two most powerful climate change people on Earth, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and UK Climate Change Champion Nigel Topping. 

All of this work will serve as a run up to the all-important COP 26 conference taking place in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1 to November 12, 2021.   We will organize educational events here in Westchester to coincide with COP 26 much of which we expect will be virtual.   

Addendum

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

As you may know the UNFCCC is the group that oversees the implementation of the COP process that led to the Paris Agreements five years ago in COP 21.  Indeed, the UN climate change process has been going on for 25 years enacted through annual conferences know as COP or Conference of Parties.   COP 26 will take place in November in Glasgow, Scotland.   

Let’s Go Zero Campaign 

As part of the COP process the host country is asked to name a climate change champion.   The UK has named Nigel Topping as its climate change champion.   Mr. Topping is a big supporter of the Lets Go Zero campaign naming Alex Green to head up that process.    Westchester County has been working closely with Ms. Green who is working with us on delivering the Lets Go Zero campaign in Westchester 

The Most Amazing thing Humanity has ever Done!!

In his recent book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates makes clear the nature of the transformative global challenge being faced by humanity as it relates to climate change.      

In this short video Gates is asked by the interviewer Anderson Cooper, “You believe this is the toughest challenge humanity has ever faced?”  

Bill Gates answers: “Absolutely!!!  The amount of change, new ideas, is way greater than the pandemic.  And it needs a level of cooperation that would be unprecedented.” 

The interview closes as follows: 

Anderson Cooper:  It just seems overwhelming if every aspect of our daily life has to change. 

Bill Gates:  It can seem overwhelming.   There are days where it looks very hard.   If people think it is easy they are wrong.   It they think it is impossible they are wrong. 

Anderson Cooper:  Its possible?

Bill Gates:  It’s possible but it will be the most amazing thing mankind has ever done.