Jamie Driscoll, Labour Mayor of North of Tyne, has pledged to give every state school in the area the opportunity to train one member of staff as a United Nations accredited ‘climate change teacher’.
Expected to be approved by a North of Tyne cabinet meeting, the pledge will allow teachers to take a 15-20 hour online course on climate change, accredited by the UN and provided by the Global United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) Teacher Academy and Harwood Education. The North of Tyne area could become the first region in the world to meet the UN Sustainable Development goal of having one teacher who has completed the course in every UK school.
The move is likely to be praised by teachers, since a recent poll showed that 2/3 of UK teachers believe schools can, and should, do more to educate children on the dangers of climate change.
Mayor Driscoll’s pledge is certainly admirable, given that the next generation may be key to tackling climate change, and reducing its devastating effects on our planet. If teachers who have undergone the course can encourage young people to lessen their consumption of meat and dairy, use more public transport, or even pursue a career in the renewable energy sector, then this course certainly has its benefits. As someone who has lived in the North East for my entire life, I am proud to see that local children are being educated on such important issues.
Surely Driscoll might want to do something to address the fact that 6 of the 10 worst sites for air pollution in the North East are located in Newcastle? Or, how about the fact that 30 locations in the North East are said to produce amounts of air pollution that exceed government targets? Maybe he could even make some progress towards actually creating the long-awaited Clean Air Zone in Newcastle, and introducing toll charges for high-polluting vehicles?
Whilst Driscoll’s pledge seems well-intentioned, and educating the next generation on the dangers of climate change is undeniably a positive idea, one can’t help but feel that the main purpose of this venture is to attract positive press coverage. If Driscoll has serious concerns about the impact of climate change on the North East, he ought to do more than tell primary school children off for asking Mum for a lift to school.