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 have issued a statement underlining the importance of climate literate citizens in combatting climate change.
Groups involved see quality climate education linked to strong civic engagement as key to better decision-making by governments, green jobs and building new, stronger, and more sustainable 21st century economies across the globe.
The Joint Civil Society Statement on Climate Education Ambition, argus that technological shifts and innovations in areas like 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 behaviour 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.
David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International, which represents nearly 33 million unionised teachers in close to 180 countries, said:
“2021 needs to be the year where climate education becomes fundamental in every child’s educational life—it also needs to be the year when governments agree that teachers are key to making quality climate education a reality for all students. It is fitting that the crucial meeting of G20 Education Ministers is happening under the Presidency of Italy, one country that has already announced its commitment and its understanding of the urgent need for quality, compulsory, climate education.”
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said:
“Climate education and environmental literacy is going to be a cornerstone upon which a sustainable, net zero economy and climate-friendly jobs can be built now and over the long term. We need governments to step up to this reality sooner rather than later.”