Climate Education

Ignorance Will Kill Us: Climate Education is the Solution

Johnny Dabrowski (far left) at Cop 26, Dubai, UAE, with members of Climate Education Coalition and rock star and supporter, Nile Rodgers

More than 50% of young people cannot explain climate change or what it means, at a critically important moment, in human history. At a time when they are the very same generation which will be responsible for managing how we survive rising temperatures and all the issues that entails. However, it’s not their fault, it’s the many governments around the world, who are not teaching climate education in every school, at every grade level, routinely.

Nelson Mandela once said that “education is one of the most powerful tools you can use to change the world,” however most world leaders seem to have forgotten this great ideal, especially in the context of climate change. Which is why we need climate education on every school curriculum across the planet so that each student is informed by facts not opinion and they have the skills needed to face the coming climate challenges, head on. 

I have witnessed climate crisis ignorance personally up close and personal, first as an advocate of Fridays For Future and later as a member of EARTHDAY.ORG. It’s always difficult hearing denial and ignorance from politicians – “Why do we need climate education?” but it was somehow worse hearing it from my student peers – “Is climate change even real?” It is why I started campaigning so passionately for the introduction of climate education onto every school curriculum – and in every classroom – not just as a designated subject but as a topic woven into the DNA of every class. 

My belief is that all people deserve access to the truth and the hard facts about climate change and I am not alone.  More than 100 civil society and youth organizations signed an agreement at COP 27, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt to establish the Climate Education Coalition – a movement whose goal is to put pressureon policymakers to integrate formal K-12 climate education into the national curriculum of every school across the globe.

It’s a coalition that has united large international organizations like EARTHDAY.ORG with more regional grassroots groups like SOS-UK. There is no better example of our scale and our impact than COP28 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  At the most significant climate conference of the year, members of the Climate Education Coalition met with Ministers, climate negotiators, UN officials and even hosted a press conference with rock star Nile Rodgers. All to promote the idea that every student has the right to climate education.

The Coalition is open to new members and we are organizing ahead towards the next UN Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, which starts on 3rd – 13th June with pre-sessional meetings from May 27th – June 2nd.   Governments and policymakers planning to attend are willing to talk with us and it is our goal to present to them the increasing interest and support for climate education, both from civil society and business. 

But still, out of 193 UN member states only a few possess compulsory climate education in their schools. Countries like the UK, Italy, Argentina, and  Colombia can definitely be defined as “champions” in the field, but climate change is a global phenomenon and until every country teaches their students about this very real and growing crisis, the human population is not truly prepared to face it. 

Just like the tech revolution that saw computer sciences taught in schools, a transition to a green economy will be powered by the knowledge learned through teaching climate education.  In the same way as everyone should know how to use a computer, everyone needs to have a general understanding of the climate crisis and what skills are needed to find ways of managing it. We need to build a society that can adequately respond to our changing climate and whose knowledge will be based on facts and science. Our future depends on it.