Jens Becker was in kindergarten when he started recording daily high and low temperatures in a little notebook. “I was always interested in nature and data,” he said.

In university, he studied industrial engineering and management, focusing on sustainability and energy transition.

“But then I began to think, ‘If you are an engineer, then you are just continuing what we’ve been doing all this time, and that doesn’t make sense anymore,’” he said. “To help solve the climate crisis, I decided the answer for me was to start with education.”

Becker taught students aged 15-16 at the Stadtteilschule Wilhelmsburg school in Hamburg, a port city in northern Germany, as a fellow for Teach First Deutschland, which is part of the Teach For All global network.

The school’s neighborhood, located near the Elbe River, is protected by a ring of dikes.

Hamburg officials have adopted an ambitious plan that includes mandating heating systems to use 65 percent renewable energy by this year, and solar and green roofs by 2027. The goal is to achieve climate neutrality in administration buildings by 2030. The city also adopted a Master Plan on Education for Sustainable Development 2030.

Given the substantial climate impacts on the school’s immediate neighborhood, the CO2 Backpack project was aimed at helping students understand the Global North’s impact on climate change, as well as considering relevant steps to take in their individual lives to reduce carbon emissions.

The students then assessed the carbon footprint of the school itself, and developed plans to reduce it.

“The house is on fire and we have to act today. But the only way forward is to act and hope,” Becker said. “So I spread all the positivity I have.”

Find his solution on the Teachers for the Planet website.

Series is completed.