Hundreds of millions of workers, teachers, youth, and environmentalists say education is key to climate action and a strong sustainable economy.
Education Ministers from across the globe are being urged to prioritise quality climate education as a major outcome at the next UN Climate Conference when they meet in Italy as part of the Group of 20 (G20) round of meetings.
An international alliance of labour and teachers’ unions, green groups, youth and parents’ organisations, research institutes, and international organisations issued a statement today underlining the importance of climate literate citizens in combatting climate change.
The groups involved, representing hundreds of millions of people across the globe, also see quality climate education linked to strong civic engagement as key to better decision-making by governments, green jobs, and building a new, stronger, and more sustainable 21st century economy.
Net zero by 2050 impossible without climate and environment literacy
The Joint Civil Society Statement on Climate Education Ambition, focusing on the G20 meeting in Sicily on 22 June, argues 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.
But it also states that without the behavioural 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 realise—if not impossible.
Research suggests that individual behavior changes around food and waste, agriculture, transport, and heating can reduce 20-37% of emissions—this is vital for the world to keep climate change in check and within science-based safety limits, the statement argues.
550 civil society organisations demand quality climate education for all
David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, which represents nearly 33 million unionised teachers in close to 180 countries, said:
Rebecca Winthrop, Co-Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, said:
Kathleen Rogers, President of EARTHDAY.ORG, said:
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said:
Liesbet Steer, Director of the Education Commission - a global initiative chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said:
Since its official launch in September 2020, EARTHDAY.ORG’s Climate and Environmental Literacy Campaign now has over 550 signatories from organisations in over 100 countries representing hundreds of millions of professionals from the environmental, education, faith, justice, and labour sectors. In the education sector, teachers everywhere are mobilising for universal quality climate change education through Education Internationals’ Teach for the Planet campaign.
Gearing up for the UN Climate Conference in November
The G20 Education Ministers Conference, which takes place in Sicily on June 22, comes six months before the UK-Italy hosted UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
Taking place six years after the 2015 UN Climate Conference where the Paris Agreement was adopted, the November conference aims to ratchet up ambition across the climate change challenge.
To date, few countries have included quality or ambitious climate education in their revised national climate action plans. However, a strong outcome from the G20 Education Ministers could change that and open the door to a declaration or decision in Glasgow where governments agree to implement stronger provisions in national education systems under Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.