HHS’s Climate Action Plan: Students Inspiring Students

Hanover High School students are taking a lead in addressing climate change. On Thursday, October 7th, a group of HHS students were invited to present our school’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) at the New Hampshire Local Energy Solutions Conference, hosted by Clean Energy NH. Created by Ms. Kornfeld’s 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 Earth Systems classes with professional help from her daughter Hannah Kornfeld, HHS alum and air quality and climate change specialist for Ascent Environmental, the HHS CAP is the first high school-made CAP in the country.

As stated by Ms. Kornfeld, “the goal of this webinar is to explain to students from NH schools who are interested in creating their own climate action plan, the process by which our plan came to fruition and to show the progress we have made on meeting the goals laid out in the CAP.” Leo Barnes, Elsa Bolinger, Maya Sandor, Caroline Adams and Vidushi Sharma were tasked with explaining to other students attending the conference the basics of the greenhouse effect, and demonstrating how a climate action plan identifies ways their school can reduce its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

One of the most important steps in creating a CAP is to have devoted individuals who feel passionately about reducing their school’s carbon footprint. In order to motivate others to create their own CAP, Leo Barnes started off with a lesson on the natural greenhouse effect and how human activity is intensifying this effect, negatively impacting the ecosystems that we all depend upon for survival. Elsa Bolinger then emphasized the urgency of climate action, using a graph of GHG emissions over the past 800,000 years to show that GHG emissions did not rise above 300 parts per million (ppm) until the industrial revolution and the burning of fossil fuels.

The level of GHG emissions is now over 400 ppm and rising at a faster rate than ever before. Following Elsa’s call to action, Maya Sandor and Caroline Adams jumped in to outline the process that HHS went through, using graphs and data from the CAP, which provided realistic next steps for the students listening in. Vidushi Sharma was the last student to present, highlighting the efforts of the Environmental Justice (EJ) Subcommittee to incorporate EJ principles into our CAP. 

It is important to recognize that while the students played a major role in the creation of the CAP from 2017-2019, and students on the Climate Action Implementation Team continue to make significant strides, it would not have been possible without the oversight of Hannah Kornfeld, who wrapped up the presentation with practical next steps for schools looking to create their own CAP. In sharing this unique document and the student-focused process of creating our CAP, we hope to inspire other students to have an impact through taking similar action. The Environmental Club will be providing an update to the HHS community on the progress made on the CAP later this year.

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