From Joe Biden to Beverley schoolchildren - How Earth Day is being marked around the world

As world leaders discuss global efforts to tackle climate change today, schools across North Yorkshire are marking Earth Day at a local level. Chris Burn reports.

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

While new US President Joe Biden hosts a virtual climate summit of world leaders including Boris Johnson today to coincide with Earth Day, schoolchildren in North Yorkshire will also be playing their part in driving positive action for the planet.

Earth Day was first marked in 1970 and its importance has arguably grown over the years. President Biden’s summit is being described by the White House as a “key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference” which is taking place in Glasgow this November.

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In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

While global policy decisions are in the works, at a local level 17 schools in North Yorkshire, two secondaries and 15 primaries, which are part of the St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust will be marking the day in their own way.

The Trust’s schools have been officially placed on the global ‘Earth Day’ map due to their continued commitment to protecting the environment. They are the only academy group in Yorkshire to feature on the worldwide map, which details how schools across the globe will be marking Earth Day.

An impressive line-up of speakers – including from The Woodland Trust, food waste charity Too Good to Go, the University of York, climate action solutions company Ashden and the Bishop of Middlesbrough – are among those who will be answering questions from the children as part of a special, virtual event.

Margaret Land, sustainability officer for St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust, says: “Without any prompting, the children have delivered some fantastic questions for our speakers to answer. ‘Is moving to Mars a realistic solution?’ and ‘how can we make sure our voices are heard?’ are just a couple of the wonderful examples.

“Our students are passionate about how their daily actions impact on the environment around them, so the speakers are guaranteed to inspire.

“The theme for Earth Day this year is ‘Restore our Earth’, and our schools are continuing their commitment to protect the planet by planting trees, litter picking, making bird feeders and helping the wildlife to thrive.

“Every day is ‘Earth Day’ for the students and staff at St Margaret Clitherow as we continue to work towards the 2030 nationwide ‘Let’s Go (carbon) Zero’ campaign.”

Two of the Trust’s schools – St. John of Beverley RC Primary, Beverley, and St. Aelred’s RC Primary, York – took part yesterday in a live Q&A on the 21 April with Alex Green from the Ashden Trust, who introduced some of their global award winners who have developed pioneering solutions to the climate crises.

Alex is also leading the national schools’ campaign ‘Let’s Go Zero’ of which the Trust is a flagship representative.

St Francis Xavier Secondary School in Richmond will be planting 100 meters of mixed native hedge saplings donated by the Woodland Trust as part of their ongoing green corridor project. The school has also volunteered to be part of the eduCCate Global climate change initiative with staff across several subjects being trained up. 

Sacred Heart School in Northallerton has recently been successful in their application to the British Trust for Ornithology and have been given books and binoculars to help make their forest school area a bird friendly zone.

Meanwhile, all staff and children at St Wilfred’s RC Primary in York will be taking part in a dedicated curriculum day to celebrate Earth Day. Each phase of school is focussing on a different ‘we care’ statement.

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