Climate Changers: Helping fight the Climate Crisis

28 July 2020 | Gaby Sethi, Head of OVO Foundation

OVO Foundation: OVO’s very own charity 

Hi, I’m Gaby - Head of OVO Foundation, which I helped to launch back in 2015. Our mission is to use our energy to change the world for the better, and over the past 5 years I’ve been lucky enough to create a mix of exciting projects that do just that – all while focusing on improving the lives of children and young people around the world. And, with the amazing help of our members, we’ve had some fantastic achievements

But given the urgency of the climate crisis, we felt the need to sit down and reevaluate our mission. With today being World Nature Conservation Day, I wanted to introduce you to our new vision and the three sustainability projects we will be supporting over the next three years to help us move closer to achieving that vision. 

Our new world-changing ambition

To win the war against carbon, the world needs all the help it can get. That’s why we’ve recently refocused our priorities to match today's needs – and OVO's new sustainability strategy, Plan Zero

We want to create a world where all children and young people have equitable access to a sustainable future. We think there is an urgent need to fund projects that address climate change issues as they impact and affect children and young people in the UK.

This is in response to research that shows that: 

We want to change this for the better. That’s why we’re investing £1 million over the next three years in our new programme ‘Climate Changers’. The aim is to provide children and young people with the knowledge and skills to take action on the climate crisis and help create sustainable communities. 

Over the next three years, our funding will: 

  • Save 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in schools 
  • Create 12 Tiny Forests in low income, urban areas of the UK, absorbing 7,200kg CO2
  • Engage 116,000 children and young people in climate change and sustainability issues

Let’s take a closer look at our new partners and projects:

Climate Changer #1 Action for Conservation | WildED programme

Who is Action for Conservation? 

Since 2014, Action for Conservation (AFC) have supported young people from diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of environmental leaders. They work in low income communities across UK urban centres to inspire and support young people to create green, sustainable communities, through delivering projects that boost biodiversity, build key skills and knowledge and cut carbon emissions.

What are we funding? 

We will be funding their WildED programme in 99 secondary schools across three UK regions: South East (London), South West (Bristol and South Wales) and North West (Liverpool and Manchester).

What will it achieve?

  • Over 2,470 students will participate in the WildED programme, supported by 135 trained local volunteers
  • 198 teachers will make use of resources to support students’ environmental learning 
  • Young people will design and deliver 412 projects to boost biodiversity and cut carbon emissions; helping to build a generation of young people who are inspired and supported to create green, sustainable communities

Find out more about Action for Conservation.

Climate Changer #2 Earthwatch | Tiny Forests with Schools

Who is Earthwatch Europe? 

Earthwatch is an environmental charity whose mission is to connect people with the natural world, monitor the health of our natural resources and inform the actions that have the greatest positive impact on the environment. They are pioneering the development of Tiny Forests in the UK: planting dense urban woodlands (the size of a tennis court) to enhance urban environments. 

What are we funding? 

We will establish 12 Tiny Forests in the UK to improve the physical environment for children in deprived communities and connect them with the environment and sustainability. We will provide training and resources for teachers to educate children in the outdoors, breaking down the boundaries of typical classroom-based learning.

What will it achieve?

  • 9,000 students and 480 educators will have access to Tiny Forests and the associated training and development
  • A further 1,200 young people aged 18 to 25 will conduct scientific monitoring of each Tiny Forest
  • Average annual uptake of up to 7.2 tonnes of CO2 from the Tiny Forests by 2023

Find out more about Earthwatch.

Climate Changer #3 Energy Sparks 

Who is Energy Sparks? 

Energy Sparks Energy Sparks is an online energy management tool and education programme that empowers pupils to improve the energy efficiency of their schools, helping them to have a real impact on climate change. It also teaches them energy saving skills to take home to their families and communities.

We know that schools are notoriously energy inefficient and many local authorities have reported they account for a large proportion of the area’s carbon emissions. Roughly £44 million per year could be saved by schools investing in carbon reducing strategies, and also prevent 625,000 tonnes of CO2 being released.

What are we funding? 

We will be funding Energy Sparks’ expansion into 350 schools across the UK reaching up to 100,000 pupils.

What will it achieve?

  • Reach 100,000 pupils across 350 UK primary and secondary schools.
  • 6.000 tonnes CO2 saving and £1.9 million saving off school energy bills (average 20% energy saving reduction at schools over a three-year period)

Find out more about Energy Sparks.

Excited for the future 

Whilst the climate crisis collectively represents one of our greatest challenges, I’m really excited with the prospect of supporting these three inspiring projects. Watch this space for updates throughout the year or head over now to OVO Foundation to see how you can make a difference.