YOUNG eco-warriors at two York schools have secured £20,000 in cash after scooping a national climate change award.

Students from Park Grove Primary School beat 28 other schools from Norwich, York and Perth by reducing their school's carbon footprint by an impressive 26 per cent and have won £10,000, provided by Norwich Union, to pay for a renewable energy installation.

Archbishop of York Junior School, in Bishopthorpe, scooped another £10,000 by gathering nearly 1,000 pledges from their friends and family, committing to take action to reduce their personal impact on the environment.

Pledges included switching appliances off standby and swapping baths for showers. Other York schools also managed to gather a further 1,047 pledges between them.

The scheme called Climate Change Champions (CCC) is a schools programme developed by environmental charity Global Action Plan (GAP) in partnership with Norwich Union.

Fifteen volunteers from Norwich Union's York offices mentored more than 100 students, ranging from seven to 16, on understanding climate change, calculating their school's carbon footprint and devising a campaign to cut down on school waste and energy use.

The seven York schools that completed all elements of the carbon footprint audit process reduced their combined carbon footprint by 8.5 per cent, saving 51 tonnes of CO2.

Park Grove Primary, alone managed to prevent 15 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere - that's enough to fill three hot air balloons.

The students conducted an initial audit in late 2007 and a follow-up audit in April 2008 which involved collecting all of the waste generated by the whole school in one day to be weighed and sorted.

This information, together with analysis of energy usage, enabled them to create a comprehensive action plan to help reduce their energy and paper consumption as well as their waste production.

The seven schools that completed all elements of the carbon footprint audit process were - Canon Lee, Tang Hall Primary, Dunnington Primary, Naburn CE Primary, Park Grove, All Saints' RC, and Archbishop of York's CE.

Huntington secondary and St Lawrence CE also took part in the programme, but did not complete the two audits.

James Leach, of Norwich Union, said: "I am delighted at the measurable success that Climate Change Champions has made in reducing the carbon footprint of schools in York.

"The programme has clearly enthused the students about an issue relevant to their lives and, in turn, the students inspired the Norwich Union volunteers and their teachers who were central to the success of the project."

Rebecca Tait, teacher at Park Grove, said: "The children are immensely pleased with the school's achievement and look forward to seeing the renewable energy installation arrive."