White Plains High School Becomes Climate Neutral
By Sophia Alexandrou
Last month, White Plains High School signed a dual pledge facilitated by the UNFCCC, the organization from the United Nations that organized the Paris Climate Agreement, effectively making it one of the first schools in the country to become climate neutral. With the help of Dr. Freeman-Mac, Mr. Stefanelli, Joe Carvin from One World- a Westchester based climate organization- Sophia Alexandrou, Lily Kis-Horvath, and Rasha Elwakil, along with Advocates for the Earth, worked hard to get this signed before the end of 2021.
What does it mean to be climate neutral? Climate neutrality means that White Plains High School has net 0 greenhouse gas emissions. This dual pledge allowed us to get there through three steps.
The first step in this process was measuring White Plains High School’s emissions. This was done by Mr. Stefanelli using a calculator created by the UNFCCC. He found that in an average year, White Plains High School emits about 543.21 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The next step in the process is to reduce these emissions where we can. This can happen through smaller projects like putting in only LED lightbulbs throughout the school and composting, or through larger projects like building solar panels.
This final step in this process is to offset what we cannot reduce. This is how White Plains High School was able to achieve climate neutrality. This pledge makes a commitment to offsetting emissions through the investment in a carbon neutral fuel cogeneration project in India. This project utilizes available biomass resources to generate electricity for in-house consumption. This project, among the many offered by the UNFCCC, allows countries to develop economically while not causing any more environmental damage, thus contributing to the COP 26 goal “to at least double funding to vulnerable nations from the hazards of a hotter planet.” This was paid for in full by One World this year.
Moving forward as a school, it is important to continue to make reduction efforts to make White Plains High School more sustainable. It is not enough to just continue to offset what we cannot reduce. However, this is an effective start that will hopefully leave White Plains High School with not only a sense of pride, but a legacy of fighting for sustainability.