WWF-Canada Blog:

Sun’s up, lights out- Earth Hour in the Arctic

Jason Dayman, the vice-principal of East Three Elementary School, sees the potential to harness the power of the sun.  Not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to save money.  Currently, the community is dependent on electricity derived from synthetic natural gas, which is shipped in from the south into the community year round on a 735 kilometer gravel highway. This makes the fuel both expensive and very carbon intensive!

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Jason Dayman, Vice-Principal of East Three elementary school in Inuvik NWT, tells his students about the cost savings and environmental benefits to using renewable energy during a lights-out assembly. (C) Dan Slavik, WWF-Canada

The East Three elementary was recently a recipient of WWF Green Community Grant, which provided them with funds to install solar panels onto their schools cabin- their on-the-land classroom located within the Mackenzie delta.  These solar panels will power the cabin through the summer and will provide an important chance to teach these students about solar energy.  “Together we can make a difference,” says Dayman, who believes that if students are exposed to alternative sources of energy from an early age, they will be aware of sustainable practices and share their knowledge with their families and neighbors. “We feel that by starting small, community members will see how easy it is and may start using more solar power.”

In their Solar Energy Strategy, The Northwest Territories aims to work with communities, industry and businesses, to install solar systems with the capability to supply up to 20 percent of electricity needs in many of it’s communities. In WWFs Energy Report, we found that currently solar energy contributes only 0.02 per cent of our global total energy supply, but by 2050, solar energy could supply half of our total electricity! So we applaud this territorial goal, look to leadership both from politicians, as well as youth, to move towards cleaner and more sustainable energy in Northern communities.

Last week, when visiting the school, I presented to the students on solar power and renewable energy.  The students committed to participating in Earth Hour on March 23rd, and began preparing to turn off the lights by working out their fingers with finger “push-ups”. Help show that you are with them by participating in Earth Hour and looking for ways to invest in renewable energy in your own community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance the clean energy revolution.

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Grade Four students, Cassidy Lennie-Ipana (right) and Libby Day-McLeod (left), of East Three Elementary School warming up to turn down the lights with a set of “finger push-ups”. (C) Dan Slavik, WWF-Canada