Pursuing carbon neutrality and teaching students about sustainability
When EF Education First announced Hello Zero, our vision and commitment to voluntarily offset all our global carbon emissions, we knew we would need outstanding partners to succeed. Our first major partner, Eden Reforestation Projects, a nonprofit organization, has planted over 6 million mangrove trees in Africa on our behalf. We will help them plant another 3 million trees in 2023.
In 2022, we joined forces with myclimate, a nonprofit global leader in carbon accounting and voluntary climate protection measures.
Cornelia Rutishauser, Team Leader for Corporate Partnerships at myclimate, praises EF’s Hello Zero ambitions. “To take responsibility for all the carbon emissions since they were established is a huge goal. I've never seen that before,” Cornelia says. “It's so important because it creates a domino effect. EF is now in the role to lead as a best example and a pioneer.”
The first phase of the myclimate partnership is a pilot program to calculate the carbon impact of our schools, offices, and all air travel by both customers and staff. The effort is small relative to EF’s overall operations. It involves a fair amount of averages, estimates, and extrapolation. But it will allow us to implement effective training, measurements, and routines to roll out to the entire organization.
The results of this pilot will teach us how best to scale our carbon accounting across the organization. More importantly, it will give us clear insight into carbon hotspots to focus on for future reduction strategies and decisions.
To ensure our data is accurate and repeatable, we are using myclimate’s science-based methodologies based on the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard and the requirements of the Science Based Targets initiative. Ultimately, we intend to account for all phases of our complex, global education programs including air travel, local transportation, vendor impacts, and more. Rigorous work up front will make our long-term goals more attainable.
“This is a great opportunity for EF. It's also a great opportunity for myclimate. And it's the best opportunity for the climate itself,” adds Cornelia from myclimate. “EF can reach so many people, it's unbelievable. It's crazy, actually.”
We have also been working with myclimate to develop an environmentally-themed language learning course for our students.
For several years, EF International Language Campuses have been exploring ways to leverage our platform as an educator to affect positive changes for the environment. We have been working to make campus life and school operations more climate friendly. We have also explored ways to incorporate
sustainability themes and lessons directly into EF language courses. When we learned myclimate has their own, robust educational curriculum, we saw a unique opportunity to combine our expertise in language training with their expertise in climate education.
Together, we translated myclimate’s original materials from German to English and tailored the teaching methodology to align with EF’s approach to language learning. The result is a “special interest” course—our term for an elective—now available in all of our English schools. Eventually, we plan to introduce it at all EF language school campuses worldwide, Our sustainability courses will eventually be available in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Korean, Japanese and Chinese, as well as English.
The course follows a CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) approach, which means the subject matter and language learning are equally important. In this case, students are exploring the science of sustainability while learning how to talk about sustainability in the target language. This is especially valuable for the high school students, university students and young professionals who study with us, because climate fluency is, increasingly, an in-demand career skill.
Stefanie Smith, who is leading the development of the course at EF, envisions a future where the material inspires EF customers and team members from other EF businesses to take meaningful, urgent action. “I hope this course will prompt anyone who comes across it, be that a student, be that a teacher, to just fight this fight.”