Gas cooking?

According to the BBC new this morning, the Prime Minister addressed a gathering of Tory activists in Oxford yesterday, at their National Conservative Convention.

At the same time as the Conservatives were gathering in the City, I was attending the spring meeting of the Liberal Democrat Education Association also being held in Oxford. Now it is worth pointing out that the Lib Dem meeting was attended by the Lib Dem MP for part of the City and some of the county and city councillors elected as Liberal Democrats for wards and divisions across the City. On the other hand, the Conservatives currently only have an elected MEP to represent the City; irony or irony. There are no Conservative MPs, County or city councillors elected anywhere in the City of Oxford, and their lack isn’t due to any defections, recent or otherwise.

Anyway, enough of political facts and on to campaigns. At the Lib Dem education conference, I proposed that we build on the report of the Committee on Climate Change issued last week that stated as an aim that, ‘From 2025 at the latest, no new homes should be connected to the gas grid.’ The same aim should be true for new public buildings, including new schools, of which there are likely to many built in Oxfordshire over the next decade to cope with the 100,000 new homes to be constructed across the county.

However, I would go further than just eradicating gas from the design of new buildings, and I proposed a campaign to start by looking at school and college kitchens in both state and private schools and colleges, as well as our universities and asking, ‘are you cooking with gas?’

There should then be a operation, if necessary backed either with funds culled from excessive school balances or some other source of funding, to replace existing gas cookers with alternatives, such as induction hobs. Once gas cooking has been removed from education establishments, whether used for cooking meals or in food technology (home economics for those of my generation, and domestic science for those with even longer memories) lessons, where they still exist, we can then move on to the bigger task of asking how schools and colleges are heated and what can be done to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by changing from gas heating systems?

I also wonder whether those pupils that went on strike over climate change could start an audit of climate performance in their schools, working along with their School Councils and governing bodies. After all, Strikes demonstrate concern: actions demonstrates commitment to change. From such small acorns in individual schools, might the mighty oak or real change start to grow.

Of course the biggest resource in schools that could help climate change is the playground. As I have pointed out before, playgrounds are used for their intended purpose for a fraction of the year. Could some clever researcher help turn them into a source of power for heating and light as well as where children can gather and play?


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