Education has not been prioritized as a solution to the climate crisis. It is now time to realize the great potential of education. Achieving net-zero by 2050 requires that we halve emissions each decade; while the current focus on technological innovations can help to accomplish the first reduction, the second and third will require major behavioral change by a new generation of climate literate and civically active citizens.
Education also has a crucial role to play in building the workforce for a new, greener economy. Absent much greater progress on education, there will be no chance of reaching net zero. What we teach matters. Education influences the knowledge, values and behavior of all individuals in our societies, and builds the skills of current and future leaders.
Research suggests that individual behavior changes in food and waste, agriculture, transport, and heating can reduce 20-37% of emissions (~390-730GT); early studies also suggest that students who learn about climate action influence not just their own choices, but their families’ and communities’ as well.
Education systems should urgently empower young people with the knowledge, skills and mindset to act on climate in their families and communities: 85% of youth globally believe they have a responsibility to tackle climate change, but over 40% are unsure of how to have an impact.
We commit to compulsory, assessed climate education that is linked to civic engagement. It should become as fundamental as teaching reading and writing. We will integrate and embed climate literacy across all grade levels and disciplines with the necessary teacher training and support.
Beyond the direct teaching of climate education, we commit in parallel to enabling young people, especially those in vulnerable and historically marginalized groups that stand to lose the most in the climate crisis, with the skills and support to thrive in a greener world.
Together these efforts will create the first generation of truly climate literate and civically active citizens who will be able to make environmentally informed choices about how they live, work, and participate in government, and become the climate literate workforce needed to build a new, stronger, and more sustainable 21st-century economy.