Tell it to SunStar: Solar panels in campuses

Zyoen Garcia, Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth Philippines convenor
Tell it to SunStar.
Tell it to SunStar.SunStar file photo

As the international climate negotiations wrap up on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, we submitted a position paper to the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and the Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday, Dec. 11, asserting the need for the education sector to play a leading role in Philippine efforts to mitigate global climate change.

We called on education agencies to issue a directive to all school owners and administrators to install solar panels in their campuses.

As the youth, we will inherit a world ravaged by extreme weather and rising temperatures from previous generations.

We thus have the biggest responsibility to act, and advocate action, against climate change, and we need to work with our educational institutions to win this fight.

In our position paper, we advocated to “solarize our schools,” or to transition all schools from relying on fossil fuels to shift to solar energy and other renewable forms.

We emphasized the urgency for government agencies and educational institutions to lead in mitigating the impacts of climate change as national emission targets fall short of what is needed to avert climate change.

We cited the successful efforts of the local government of Makati City and Catanduanes State University that have installed solar panels in their campuses.

With the amount of sunlight that the Philippines receives, it is a no-brainer for us to start ramping up our reliance on solar energy in particular.

Besides building awareness and educating the general public, schools in particular could benefit immensely from being powered by the sun that they are constantly exposed to, especially during the summer months.

Apart from decreasing the reliance on fossil fuels, the shift would lessen the exorbitant fees paid by students upon enrollment.

Schools’ energy costs tend to be passed along to students through tuition and other fees, and as energy costs rise, so does tuition.

Renewables have been proven to be cheaper than fossil fuels time and time again, so this shift would secure our futures not only in terms of the climate, but in terms of our own financial prospects.

We vow to continue to fight for a greater role for the youth in addressing the climate emergency, noting that the Philippines remains to be among the most vulnerable to climate change.

This climate emergency is literally going to kill us all if we do not act now, and solarizing our schools is only the first step to educating the youth, increasing our role in reducing emissions to stay under the 1.5°C threshold before the impacts of climate change become irreversible.

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