Climate and Environmental Literacy
Climate Literacy is the Key to Reversing Climate Change
April 19, 2023
Climate education and environmental literacy are the most underestimated and underfunded solutions for adopting eco-friendly practices to end the climate crisis. Investing in education better prepares the next generation to face climate change as it establishes foundational values and solutions for environmental safety. Preparatory courses have the potential to raise awareness about harmful actions and develop a sense of circular and sustainable communities from a young age.
The Education International Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All defines five pillars to help ensure such transformation is possible: (1) include governmental oversight on quality climate change education to guarantee students become climate-literate, (2) coursework based on science, (3) addressing the ethical, cultural, political, social and economic dimensions of climate change, (4) well-trained teachers, and (5) transformed school and learning environments to support climate literacy.
Even though effective methods of climate literacy implementation are widely available to governments, only a few countries have incorporated climate education into their school curriculum. According to the Climate Change Education Ambition Report Card, every country failed this commitment based on their submissions to the UNFCCC. The progressive countries on climate education with the highest real score include Cambodia (58%), Dominican Republic (51%), Colombia (50%), and Vanuatu (50%).
While the Paris Agreement emphasized the role of education and training to empower the public to make ethically informed decisions, countries who are committed to the treaty — including the US and China — have yet to implement an extensive and systemic reform on climate education. UNESCO exposes the tragic truth as reports show Africa and Oceania have considerably more climate change content, whereas Central and Southern Asia have the least. Countries most vulnerable to climate change are more likely to include climate literacy in their national curriculum frameworks than those primarily responsible for the emissions causing climate change.
The total negligence of climate literacy has disastrous implications for the countries as it not only jeopardizes the well-being of citizens and the safety of the environment, but also misses the chance to reverse climate change impact with proper education and professional development. For instance, well-trained architects and engineers can get the upper hand in the fight against climate change as they apply engineering principles that reduce the impact of major industrial activities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics already projects that the number of jobs for environmental scientists and specialists will increase by 8% between 2020 and 2030, signifying the priority for climate literacy inclusion in the school curriculum.
Llearning about environmentally conscious practices encourages changes in young people’s attitudes and behavior and helps them to adapt to climate change-related trends. Further progress intensely relies on our commitment to provide quality education in schools to prepare the younger generation for immediate climate change consequences and expose them to environmentally safe practices.
EARTHDAY.ORG’s Climate and Environmental Literacy Campaign is committed to ensuring that students worldwide have access to high-quality climate change education to support upcoming generations’ conscious and informed decisions. To successfully execute this commitment, demand global leaders at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commit to compulsory, assessed climate and environmental education with a robust civic engagement component at COP28 this November.