Kolkata, India: Education ministers from around the world are being encouraged to emphasize quality climate education as a significant outcome at the next UN Climate Conference when the Group of 20 (G20) meets in Italy, Earth Day.org says, leading a global coalition to mainstream quality climate change education.
An international coalition of labor and teachers’ unions, environmental organizations, youth and parent organizations, research institutes, and international organizations released a declaration, Monday, emphasizing the importance of climate literacy in addressing climate change.
According to the groups involved, which represent hundreds of millions of people around the world — quality climate education, coupled with strong civic engagement, is also seen as critical to better government decision-making, create green jobs, and forge the development of a new, stronger, and more sustainable 21st-century economy.
On June 22, the G20 Education Ministers are set to meet in Sicily, six months before the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, hosted by the United Kingdom and Italy.
The November summit, which takes place six years after the 2015 UN climate summit in which the Paris Agreement was adopted, aims to raise ambition throughout the climate change problem.
Technological shifts and innovations in areas such as clean energy and electric mobility will be crucial towards achieving the goals of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, the Joint Civil Society Statement on Climate Education Ambition argues, focusing on the G20 meeting in Sicily on 22 June.
But it also states that without the behavioral change made possible through climate and environmental literacy, the long-term goal of ‘net zero’ by 2050, to which increasing numbers of nations aspire as the safety line, will be tough to realize — if not impossible.
Individual behavior adjustments on food and waste, agriculture, transportation, and heating can lower emissions by 20-37 percent, according to research, which is critical for the globe to keep climate change under control and within science-based safety limits, according to the statement.
“Early studies also suggest that kids who learn about climate action influence not just their own decisions, but their families’ and communities’ as well,” said Rebecca Winthrop, Co-Director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education.
“Education institutions must immediately equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to take action on climate change in their families and communities.”
The year 2021 has to be the year when climate education changes from a nice-to-have to a must-have in every child’s educational life — it also has to be the year when governments agree that teachers will be supported to deliver it, David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, which represents nearly 33 million unionized teachers in close to 180 countries, said.
Underscoring Italy’s recent measures that seek to consolidate quality climate change education in the national curriculum, Edwards said, “It is fitting that the crucial meeting of G20 Education Ministers is happening under the Presidency of Italy.”
“Creating a climate-literate generation is perhaps the single most valuable public investment to help solve climate change,” Liesbet Steer, Director of the Education Commission, a global initiative chaired by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said.
“Well-educated citizens are essential to driving the technological and behavioral shifts needed to dramatically improve adaptation and resilience.”
However, present statistics suggest that by 2030, half of all graduating students will be utterly unprepared to flourish in our rapidly changing world, Brown said.
But on the other hand, 85 percent of young people worldwide feel they have a responsibility to address climate change, over half have no idea what they can do about it, Amel Karboul, CEO of the Education Outcomes Fund at the United Nations, said.
Despite a glaring issue, only a few nations have altered their national climate action plans to include quality or ambitious climate education, Earth Day says in its press release.
A strong outcome from the G20 Education Ministers, on the other hand, might change that and pave the way for a declaration or decision in Glasgow, in which nations agree to adopt greater provisions in national education systems as outlined in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.
“We wanted to issue this collective statement to let the Italian G20 Presidency and the G20 Education Ministers know that a strong outcome on climate education would have strong backing worldwide—citizens, labor, teachers, youth, parents, development organizations, academics, and green groups are right behind them,” Kathleen Rogers, President of EARTHDAY.ORG, said.