During Expo, Shanghai skies became blue – proving change ‘is’ possible!
“Everyone breathing should act, said the State Council, which just hit the point of all environmental issues in China. ” China Daily
The State Council, or China’s cabinet, adopted a set of concrete measures to counter air pollution on Friday, demonstrating not only resolve but also action to cope with environmental issues. CHINA DAILY reports
China’s leadership has repeatedly promised all-out efforts to conserve resources and curb pollution.
The key report at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last November put promoting ecological progress as a long-term task of vital importance to the people’s wellbeing and China’s future.
At a study session with members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in late May, President Xi Jinping also pledged that China will not sacrifice the environment for temporary economic growth.
The State Council’s latest policies of reducing air pollution can be regarded as an implementation of the principles.
They also showed that the government has a clear understanding of the nature of environmental issues in China.
As the State Council statement said on Friday, reducing air pollution is about people’s welfare and the country’s economic future.
On one hand, smog is visible and affects the life of everyone, rich and poor. It has proven that environmental crises can stir controversy and greatly undermine social stability.
On the other hand, it is closely related to transforming the economic growth pattern and promoting urbanization, the two most important issues in government work.
The country’s biggest environmental issues are linked to its fast but extensive economic development.
There will be one answer to two questions if the country finds the way to realize an eco-friendly and sustainable growth.
Friday’s policies are largely about restraining energy-consuming and polluting industries, transforming energy structure and harsher punishment on polluters. But it also included efforts to enhance legislation, transparency of environmental information, government efficiency and coordination of governments at different levels.
These are as important as direct environmental policies, if not more important.
According to the State Council, provincial governments will be assessed on their performance in reducing air pollution, and smog will be considered a public emergency to which local governments have to respond.
Environmental issues need comprehensive efforts from all sectors, particularly local governments. Their initiative is the vital for implementing the policies and supervising enterprises. Friday’s policies urged them to act.
Everyone breathing should act, said the State Council, which just hit the point of all environmental issues in China.
Compiled by NAEEUK cochair Henricus Peters
Today, International Children’s Day, my particular goal is to enable children to reconnect with their environment …
The World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 to be International Children’s Day in 1925. It is usually marked with speeches on children’s rights and wellbeing, and other events involving or dedicated to children.
A similar event, Universal Children’s Day, falls on 20 November. It was established by the United Nations in 1954 and aims to promote the welfare of children around the world.
Groups that re-connect children with the outdoors and nature:
(click on the purple to visit websites)
NAEE (UK) – the National Association for Environmental Education
Is the Government is trying to sideline ‘the environment’… ‘environmental education’ … education for sustainable development’ …? The National Curriculum Review currently underway is the chance for groups including NAEE (of which I am co-chair and Bill Scott is President) to have say and – we hope – influence policy and positive change!
Department for Education
20 Great Smith Street
Cc: Owen Paterson MP, Defra; David Heath MP, Defra; Joan Walley MP, EAC
16 April 2013
Dear Michael Gove
We are writing to urge you to keep sustainability in the National Curriculum objectives. In 2000, the following values, aims and purposes were introduced:
“Pupils should develop awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, national and global level.” (pg 11, https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/QCA-99-457.pdf)
This has allowed pioneer schools to create local whole school curricula that make core knowledge relevant and motivational. Schools embedding sustainability in their practice have been shown by Ofsted in many research reports to be Good or Excellent and with good links to improved achievement. But this practice is not yet across all schools.
Sustainability skills are commonly cited as needed by:
- Students (over 80% of 7-14 year olds want to learn more about global issues at school and rank this 3rd after numeracy and literacy – The Cooperative 2011 Ipsos Mori, quoted in their Sustainability Guide);
- University students (over 85% believe they need 8 sustainable development competencies in order to get jobs – HEA/NUS 2010, 2012),
- Teachers wanting to prepare their students for a sustainable future (see for example the Keep Britain Tidy Eco-Schools survey in 2013 where 92% wanted to keep sustainability in the curriculum, SEEd’s Teachers Needs Survey and baseline audits 2009, 2010, 2011)
- Businesses wanting both an understanding of, and skills for sustainability (many CSR reports and longer term sustainability strategies require these skills to underpin public commitments)
Keeping sustainability as an objective in the National Curriculum would allow many other schools to address topics that are part of sustainability without having to add more content to the pared down National Curriculum. This would reinforce the Department for Education’s endorsement of the Sustainable Schools Alliance, programmes such as Eco-Schools and other sustainable development initiatives in the Natural Environment White Paper 2011.
The ‘green economy’ has been growing in this country despite the recession; our students need the skills, innovation and creativity required for an environmentally, economically and socially better future.
The environment underpins our economy and society. Therefore we believe understanding this should be the entitlement for all children through retaining sustainability within the objectives of the national curriculum.
Chief Executive Officer, SEEd
Chief Executive Officer, Keep Britain Tidy
Head of Education and Youth, Oxfam GB
Chair of the Federation of Women’s Institutes
Director General, Food and Drink Federation
Chief Executive Officer, Sita-UK part of Suez Environment
Policy Director, Friends of the Earth
Executive Director, new economics foundation
Author of The Spirit Level
Executive Director – Food Ethics Council
Chief Executive, Marine Conservation Society
Finn Bolding Thomsen
Managing Director, Foundation for Environmental Education
Creative Group Director, Epitype
Dr Diane Purchase
Principal Lecturer in Environmental Health/Biology, Middlesex University
Professor Sally Inman
Director Teacher Education for Equity and Sustainability UK Network (TEESNet)
Head of Sustainability, University of Greenwich
Professor of Sustainability Education, University of Plymouth
Emeritus Professor William Scott, University of Bath; President of NAEE: the National Association for Environmental Education
Dr Heather Barrett-Mold
Chair of Council, Institution of Environmental Sciences
Chief Executive, Severn Wye Energy Agency
Chair of North East Environment Network (trading as Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists, OASES).
Lead for Sustainability Education, Durham County Council, Coordinator for North East Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Schools.
Advisor, Norfolk Integrated Education Advisory Service, Norfolk County Council.
Chief Executive, EAUC (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges).
Director, Green Alliance
Coordinator, Eco Active
Executive Director, Surfers Against Sewage
Gaeia – Global and Ethical Investment Advice
Liverpool World Centre
Chief Executive, People United.
- Plans to drop climate debate from national curriculum ‘unacceptable’ (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- ‘Keep climate lessons in curriculum’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Plans to drop climate change from national curriculum ‘unacceptable’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Politicians should stay out of schools, says ex-curriculum head (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Climate change and the curriculum: teachers share their views (guardian.co.uk)
- Teachers speak out against Michael Gove’s ‘lists of facts’ curriculum (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Teachers speak out against Gove’s ‘lists of facts’ curriculum (independent.co.uk)
- CLIMATE CHANGE: Thousands sign school petition started by 15-year-old (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- British children ‘deeply concerned’ about the impact of climate change (guardian.co.uk)
Leading environmental figures, including broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, have condemned government plans to drop debate about climate change from the national curriculum for children under 14 as “unfathomable and unacceptable”.
In a letter to the Sunday Times, also signed by academics, politicians and business leaders, they warn the proposals are short-sighted, coming at a time when the loss of wildlife and habitats is ongoing, and evidence suggests many children are missing out on the benefits of spending time in nature.
“Under the new draft national curriculum for England, education on the environment would start three years later than at present and all existing references to care and protection would be removed,” the letter states. “This is both unfathomable and unacceptable. Today’s children are tomorrow’s custodians of nature.
“There is a duty to ensure that all pupils have the chance to learn about threats to the natural world, to be inspired to care for it and to explore ways to preserve and restore it.
“These proposals not only undermine our children’s understanding and love of nature, but ultimately threaten nature itself.”
The letter, signed by 96 people, also including broadcasters Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Chris Packham, says the government has a commitment “to nurturing our children’s love and respect for nature” under two binding international agreements – the UN convention on the rights of the child and the convention on biological diversity’s Aichi targets.
Sir Chris Bonington has condemned the proposals. Photograph: Mark Pinder
The Guardian revealed last month that draft guidelines for children in key stages 1 to 3 had removed discussion of climate change in the geography syllabus, with only a single reference to how carbon dioxide produced by humans affects the climate in the chemistry section. All references to sustainable development have also been dropped in a move widely interpreted as the result of political interference.
The plans caused alarm among climate campaigners and scientists, with teachers and student groups also criticising the draft guidelines.
A 15-year-old girl started a petition to the education secretary, Michael Gove, to keep climate change in the national curriculum for under 14s, which has attracted more than 28,000 signatures.
Critics have pointed out that one of the dangers of waiting until GCSE courses to teach about climate change in any depth is that only a minority of pupils study geography at that level. The government’s former science adviser, Prof Sir David King, denounced the government proposals as “major political interference with the geography syllabus”.
The proposed changes have been broadly welcomed by some groups, including the Geographical Association, which represents more than 6,000 geography teachers, and the Royal Geographical Society, which said the guidelines provided for a better grounding in geography before students tackle climate change.
The Department for Education has dismissed the idea that climate change is being excised from the national curriculum, insisting “climate and weather feature throughout the geography curriculum”.
It is consulting on the proposed changes but the letter warns that “the place of the natural environment in the national curriculum is more critical than ever”.
- CLIMATE : Teachers should be given free rein to teach climate change in schools (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Climate change cut from national curriculum for children up to 14 (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Climate change cut from national curriculum for children up to 14 (guardian.co.uk)
- BHA news : BHA signs SEF letter calling for strong sex education in national curriculum science (humanism.org.uk)
- CLIMATE CHANGE: Thousands sign school petition started by 15-year-old (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
WILDLIFE : International school project will track ospreys… but is the Government doing away with Nature?
Thousands of children from across Europe and Africa are to be brought together in a pioneering project to create a new generation of conservationists. Yet the Government is planning to reduce the importance placed on learning about the natural environment. The Independent reports.
NAEE is very concerned about the environment being further extracted from the curriculum!
The osprey is being used to capture the attention of pupils. Satellite data showing the progress of the bird along its annual migration routes is being used in an interactive map which allows schools to follow the flights of birds tagged with GPS trackers.
Launched at ospreys.org.uk, it is the expansion of a pilot project in which several schools in Gambia – where the osprey spends the winter – have partnered with schools in England, where some breed each summer.
The pilot project began in 2011, but this year will involve schools from countries along the migration route, said Tim Mackrill, from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, which manages the “flyways” project. “This is the first project to enable schools to link up through the migration of this particular bird,” he said. Schools in Spain, Morocco, Finland, Ukraine, Italy and Estonia have already signed up.
Campaigners are fighting government proposals which would scrap references to children being required to be taught “to care for the environment”. They fear the move will undermine pupils’ understanding and appreciation of nature, according to the Wildlife Trusts. It is appealing for people to oppose the curriculum changes online at: education.gov.uk/consultations.
“It is very worrying if the Government is planning to reduce the importance placed on learning about the natural environment,” Mr Mackrill said.
- Caledonia the osprey living high life in Seville (scotsman.com)
- Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust launches Staunton Country Park courses (portsmouth.co.uk)
- The business of shorebirds (worldwaders.wordpress.com)
- Art the Osprey continues journey home (wmur.com)
- Green Parenting : 5 Kids Wildlife Subscription Gifts (bynature.co.uk)