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Low carbon education by communities and schools...

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Low carbon education by communities and schools working together

Shuichi Teraki

Jun.20,2011 The Education Newspaper printing

Japan set a mid-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% compared to 1990. Furthermore, in the G8 meeting on May 26, 2011, Japan stressed its goal to generate more than 20% of Japanese electricity using renewable sources by the early 2020s because of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant. However, only about 1% of electricity is currently generated by renewable energy other than hydropower in Japan. Energy problems such as the lack of electricity supply after the Tohoku earthquake are a good opportunity for communities, homes, and schools to cooperate and work toward the issue of achieving a low carbon society.

Maximum electricity demand for this summer is estimated to be 60 million kW whereas the estimated maximum supply is 53.8 million kW (as of May 13, 2011), therefore extensive power savings is also required in schools and homes in addition to companies and government agencies.

The Center for Low Carbon Society Strategy (LCS) collaborated with various municipalities in the TEPCO service area to react to this lack of electricity, and started a social experiment to build a system to prevent power failures. This experiment alerts parents (families) to reduce electricity use when lack of power supply becomes a concern through a local emergency contact network. Each home records energy-saving actions that were taken, and measures electricity use (kWh) displayed on power meters that were attached to home appliances such as air conditioners or TVs. Peak-cutting measures at homes will be taken in collaboration with nearby municipalities to prevent insufficiencies of electricity during the summer after analyzing the results of the experiment.

Discussing the measured data in classes in schools would be an effective low carbon education. The course of study for elementary school (3rd and 4th grade social studies) includes classes to "discuss how drinking water, electricity, and gas are used and how much are consumed by people in the community. Investigate actual examples of how sufficient amounts of drinking water, electricity, and gas, which are inevitable for daily lives and operation of industries, are secured." Therefore, this would be a typical example of low carbon education.

Low carbon education is an action to achieve a low carbon society from school education and families, which are affected by school education. The aim is to provide an actual situation in school education to solve various problems using knowledge of science and technology from the viewpoint of daily life.

The role of science and technology that provide delight and cheerfulness to daily life will be taught to students through low carbon education. This education is implemented such that students can acquire the zest for living and the ability to set and progress toward goals by selecting of what to do in the future and learning the necessary wisdom and knowledge. In addition, accumulation of small successes in daily life will allow students to accept themselves positively and have dreams of the future. This is linked to fostering the "zest for living", which was one purpose of the revision of the course of study.

Education with the name "education", such as environmental education, consumer education, or safety education, is usually not on the regular schedule, hence there is no initial allocation of time. Schools must implement low carbon education based on the developmental stage and the students' desire to learn while aiming to meet the goals and teach the contents of each subject in the course of studies. Development of teaching materials and teaching guides for individual subject, mainly for social studies, science (industrial arts), and home economics, and across subjects are necessary to promote low carbon education. Examples of urgent issues are extracting elements related to low carbon society from advanced examples in education of sustainable development which are then structured and evaluated, and developing goals and contents corresponding to resolutions of current energy-related problems.