At its June 3 meeting, the Halton District School Board of Trustees approved a student-led ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ to set a direction for students and the HDSB to move forward in addressing the complex challenge of climate change.
The HDSB’s Student Senate expressed grave concern about the climate crisis and their interest in supporting a climate emergency declaration to safeguard the environment while inspiring action to address these threats. Recognizing the challenges climate change brings to the HDSB, the declaration aims to inspire students, families and staff to take collective action in combating climate change within their communities through various actions including:
Communicating with students through annual reports to Student Senate on Board level actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Empowering students to initiate and take action through support of a network of school-based, student focused groups, that set their own metrics for measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Recognizing student achievements through an Environmental Excellence Award to a person(s) who has undertaken or inspired environmental action.
This ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ has been drafted by HDSB Student Trustees Matthew Burnes (Oakville Trafalgar HS) and Olivia Lau (White Oaks SS) and two Student Senator representatives on the HDSB Environmental Management Team, Luka Simeunovic (Garth Webb SS) and Claire Jung (Forest Trail PS), on behalf of all students in the Board.
“These measures are designed to not only include the entire HDSB community in future climate policy development but to inspire students and staff to constantly work toward a lower carbon footprint in Halton through direct action,” said Matthew Burnes, Student Trustee.
“I've been honoured to work on this motion and engage in climate-oriented dialogue this past year, and I couldn’t be happier with the results of this first student-led climate emergency declaration.”
“This climate declaration is not just a symbol, it is a concrete promise that the Halton District School Board will work with students, staff, and the wider community to combat the evolving threat of climate change,” said Student Trustee Olivia Lau. “This declaration is heavily focused on engaging, educating and supporting youth when it comes to climate change advocacy. Our hope is it will serve as the first step toward actionable change in the foreseeable future.”
“All students will see their place in affecting climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as understand what the Board is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase awareness and knowledge of the complexity of climate change,” says Suzanne Burwell, the Board’s Environmental Sustainability Specialist. “This ‘Climate Emergency Declaration’ is a momentous first step in taking action on all sustainability issues - social, economic and environmental.”
For additional information, contact:
Marnie Denton, Manager, Communication Services and Community Engagement
Halton District School Board