Students win German Climate Award

Climate protection begins at home. No one understands this better than the young winners of the German Climate Award which is sponsored by the Allianz Foundation for Sustainability. As the students understand very well, anyone who actively supports the environment will naturally set a good example for others.

To help protect the environment and reduce their own CO2 consumption, ninth-grade students at the Werner von Siemens school in Erlangen gave up long hot showers, far-away vacations with their families, their parents' carpool services and long phone calls. In the process, they developed an almost missionary and even sportive spirit of motivation.

The Erlangen students are also using the Internet to promote CO2 reduction, and making a difference by generating support among the broader public. These young environmental activists developed a new idea for a web site, where students - individuals, as well as entire classes and student bodies - can compare their actual CO2 consumption levels with those of other students in a competitive fashion. They can even use the site to measure the success of their reduction efforts.

The site quickly became popular with activists, but the real objective was to generate interest in the CO2 mouse server. So the students started a poster campaign at every school in Bavaria; and within days, budding activists were logging on by the hundreds with the CO2 mouse.

Winning students from the Werner von Siemens school together with President Horst Köhler, class teacher Martin Aufmuth, Lutz Spandau and Dieter Stolte of the Allianz Foundation for Sustainability (f.l.t.r.)

In just a few months, the site helped to save 16,000 tons of CO2. For their success with the project, the class was honored with the Allianz Foundation for Sustainability German Climate Award, which was bestowed personally by State Secretary Astrid Klug. The students hope to invest the 10,000 euro award in developing their idea further. Their plan is to spread awareness about the C02 mouse in all German schools.

The German Climate Award has a total endowment of 50,000 euros, which was divided equally among five student projects. Representatives of each project were present at the Allianz Foundation Forum to accept their awards.

The AG Solar/Solartec team from the Max Beckmann school in Berlin received an award for their own self-designed and environment friendly solar boats.

The Umwelt AG 50/50 group from the Emilie Heyermann school in Bonn won the German Climate Award for reducing energy consumption in their own school, as well as for their efforts locally and internationally to advise other schools, including schools in Hungary and Uzbekistan.

Students from the Umwelt AG team at the Carl Strehle School for the Visually Impaired in Marburg will be using their 10,000 euro award to develop further their publicly accessible energy nature trail, which leads through their school's block heating station and photovoltaic system. They will also make their information tables available in both normal script and Braille.

The Energy Managers from the Gymnasium Neutraubling will use their award money to develop additional climate protection projects in Tanzania involving their school's own self-financed solar power unit.

The panel of high-caliber judges had to make tough decisions in awarding the prizes. A critical factor for the selection of winning projects, according to Foundation chairman Lutz Spandau ,was that the ideas submitted should enable synergies of cultural, social or international nature, with the ultimate goal being "to raise awareness on the topic as much as possible".

Spandau praised the commitment demonstrated by the schools in the highest possible terms: "All the things we expect to come from the political and economic arenas, have long been practiced in the schools."

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