Climate Change: Take action

Climate Week is Britain’s biggest environmental occasion held each year in March. It culminates in 3,000 events attended by half a million people, showcasing the positive solutions to climate change. There are three good ways for schools to take part. Firstly, they can take part in the Climate Week Challenge. This is the UK’s biggest environmental competition, with teams of pupils across the country working to come up with solutions to climate change – in 2012 over 130,000 pupils and adults took part.

Secondly, schools can take part in the Climate Week Swap. All they need to do is run a swap event in your school and invite parents, teachers and pupils to come along and swap their clothes, books, toys and DVDs.

Thirdly, schools can run their own event during Climate Week. This could be a talk, workshop, film-screening, energy saving project or walk‑to-school scheme. Whatever works for your local school and community. Register your involvement at

About Climate Week
Climate Week is a supercharged national campaign to inspire a new wave of action on climate change. It culminates with thousands of events and activities taking place throughout the week of 4 to 10 March 2013, planned by organisations from every part of society. Showcasing real, practical ways to combat climate change, the campaign aims to renew our ambition to create a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

Climate Week is backed by all sectors of society – from the Prime Minister to Paul McCartney, the National Primary Headteachers’ Association to the Met Office, the TUC to the CBI, Girlguiding UK to PTA-UK. During Climate Week 2012 over 3,000 events were attended by half a million people across the UK.

Why should schools take part?
Climate Week offers schools, organisations and community groups an occasion to profile all the work that they are doing to tackle climate change. There are so many positive solutions already taking place across Britain and by providing a platform for these solutions and activities, Climate Week hopes that millions more people will be inspired to take action.

Climate Week enables teachers to put a particular focus on the issue for one week of the year, and provides practical, educational and creative ways to engage students and pupils. The Climate Week Challenge draws on the environmental knowledge that pupils will have learnt in their lessons, and challenges them to apply that knowledge in order to come up with real, workable solutions. It uses their presentation skills, teamwork, creative talents and communication abilities. It also gives them a chance to be nationally recognised for their skills and ideas.

The actions and positive steps that take place at school as a result of Climate Week can be a real turning point for schools, and encourage a wider shift in attitudes. St Christopher’s School in Accrington for example began with a ‘Pledge 4 Veg’ campaign that was led by the students and has developed into a whole school action plan encouraging the school – and its surrounding community – to live and work more sustainably.

The Climate Week Challenge
Registrations are now open for the Climate Week Challenge, Britain’s biggest ever environmental competition. Already over 500 schools and organisations have registered to take part. The Challenge is open to all ages, can be done on any day during Climate Week and it is completely free to take part. Over 130,000 people participated in 2012 in a challenge to come up with an idea to green a local space and make it more environmentally friendly. The entries were judged by a celebrity panel and the winners went on to take part in workshops organised by industry and business leaders. Winning designs included the Water Pebble – a device for the shower that flashes green when you first start washing, amber for when it’s time to rinse off and red for when it’s time to get out the shower. The pupils [pictured] really enjoyed their workshop learning about climate change, developing their design and creating a school action plan.

AS-level students from Prince Henry’s Grammar, Otley, were winners in the 16+ category. Their design was for a new style of ‘eco-fridge’ using the latest thermo-acoustic technology, which would be installed in their local supermarket. The students visited a fridge manufacturing plant in Birmingham who supply directly to companies including Tesco, and were given a tour around the factory before pitching their idea to industry leaders.

Bryony Barlow, one of the team members, said: “We presented to professionals and pitched our idea, not many people can say they’ve done that! I’m definitely going to look into engineering.”

Paul Alway, responsible for Technical Standards Refrigeration for Tesco, said of their design: “A fantastic piece of work that accurately identified and addressed all the main energy usage issues associated with refrigerated cabinets in supermarkets. I particularly liked the proposed use of new and exciting technologies like Thermo-acoustic refrigeration to do away with harmful fridge gases. It’s good to see the long term future of retail refrigeration is in safe hands!”

One of the featured judges for the Climate Week Challenge in 2013 will be Robert Swan, environmentalist and adventurer. Robert Swan, OBE is one of the world’s pre-eminent polar explorers and environmental leaders. By age 33, Robert Swan, OBE became the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. He has dedicated his life to the preservation of the Antarctic wilderness and promoting recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change through positive leadership. He will in fact be in the Antarctic running the Climate Week Challenge during Climate Week, and is excited about judging the UK entries. Register for the Challenge by visiting our website

The Climate Week Swap
In 2013 there will be a new feature to the campaign, the Climate Week Swap. Swapping clothes, books toys and DVDs saves previous resources, reduces waste and carbon emissions and is completely free to run. Hosting a Swap can be done by anyone in any setting – whether at work, at home, or in the community – and those who register can win a signed celebrity item! Celebrities involved include Hugh Laurie, Frank Lampard, Zoe Wanamaker and Hayley Westenra. Parents can host a uniform or sports kit swap, children can take part in a toy swap and school libraries could run book swaps.

The simplest way to run a Climate Week Swap is just to invite friends, work colleagues or neighbours for an hour of swapping. Everyone comes with as much or as little to swap as they want.

A more organised system is to give everyone tickets when they arrive – if someone brings eight things for the swap pile, they receive eight tickets. They can then exchange their tickets for eight things they choose to take home.

The Climate Week Awards
The Climate Week Awards recognises inspirational and impressive actions taking place in every sector of society. The judging panel contains the advisor to the Prince of Wales’ Sustainability Unit, Tony Juniper, the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and the Bishop of London. We have a category dedicated to Best Educational Initiative, last year won by Turner’s Hill C of E School.

The Award winners will be announced at our Awards ceremony on 4 March 2013 and the deadline for entries is 25th January 2013. If you think your school could win an Award then nominate them now, or let us know about someone you think deserves recognition. Visit

Run your own event
The event ideas listed above are suggestions, but schools and organisations that are already doing fantastic work can run an event that profiles these initiatives during Climate Week. You could put on a workshop, hold a debate, organise a cycle‑to‑school scheme or host a film-screening. Whatever suits you and your school.

Nurseries, schools, colleges and teaching associations can get involved now by starting to plan an event for Climate Week, whether that be one of the events described above, or your own event. This provides a unique opportunity to profile your own initiatives and innovations to staff, students and the community, members and the media. You can also spread the word in advance, so that others find out about Climate Week in time to plan their own activities.

You can help right now by asking the schools and teachers you know to plan an event or activity for Climate Week. You can also enter the Awards and register to take part in the Climate Week Challenge.

Further information