Credit: St George's International School Luxembourg

St George's International School Luxembourg has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as part of its new "School Climate Pledge", unveiled today in the presence of Luxembourg's Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, Carole Dieschbourg, and British Ambassador Fleur Thomas.

The pledge is part of the school's decarbonisation plan and is aimed at helping to broaden students' understanding of emissions, climate change and how everyone can make a difference.  

St George's Principal Dr Christian Barkei explained that the climate pledge aimed to significantly reduce the school's emissions with a goal of net zero. This will promote and support the EU 2030 Climate Target Plan and the Paris 2050 targets ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, next month.

Dr Barkei added that the students and staff planned to achieve their goal through projects to reduce and offset greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing school traffic, assisting with reforestation programmes, green procurement, weekly meat-free days in the canteen and more. "Everyone can make a difference – and these little daily differences in behaviour and consumption can be straightforward and simple, but they do add up to substantial and lasting change", he said.

The pledge has been driven by St George's Sustainability Coordinator, Anne-Marie McHugh, with the assistance of the school's "Climate Action" students and staff across primary and secondary.

"Our students are well informed about climate change and their future, and they regularly ask staff what the school can do to tackle climate change". Ms McHugh said. "The School Climate Pledge is about empowering our students by creating a platform that promotes a school environment that is more sustainable. We believe this will help our students innovate new ways for positive change and prepare them for the future".

St George's has estimated that it generates an average of 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year through school services. It forecasts that more than 100 tonnes of emissions can be avoided with planned projects over the next couple of years. 

Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg said that the school climate pledge not only showed great commitment but also provided the opportunity to engage students in climate action. "The involvement of students, their experiences and motivation to take action to make their school more sustainable is what makes this effort so remarkable. Harnessing the power of education to combat climate change is crucial, but only when knowledge is combined with a sense of connection and caring, climate action can follow", she said.

The climate pledge also provided an opportunity for British Ambassador Fleur Thomas to discuss the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26), which is being hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow from 1 November. 

"We are committed to working with all countries and joining forces with private-sector stakeholders, civil society and academia to implement the Paris agreement and to reach the goals of COP26", the Ambassador explained. "Fostering youth participation is key to achieving our climate goals and the St George's International School Climate Pledge is a fine example of an enhanced local climate action to fight against climate change".

Primary and secondary students presented a musical piece and drama sketch developed to help explain the pledge, before unveiling an artwork with almost 200 clay leaves containing environmental promises written by students. The pledge was then read out in English and Luxembourgish.