Our planet is already 1.07°C (2°F) warmer than pre-industrial times. Without substantial emission reductions, projections suggest global temperatures could rise by 2.8°C by 2100. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including cyclones, floods and heatwaves are increasing.
These events can be both immediately devastating and trigger broader environmental degradation such as soil erosion, reduced crop yield and disruption to natural cycles on which communities depend.
In combination, impacts include infrastructure destruction, negative health impacts and even forced migration, posing grave threats to family lives and livelihoods with detrimental impacts on education uptake, access and attainment.
Unpacking the evidence at the intersection between education and climate change
Education systems globally are grappling with how to respond to both the social and moral challenges of preparing future generations for a changing world. In lower-income countries, who are least responsible for the underlying climatic causes but most vulnerable to their impacts, the challenge of dealing with devastating impacts of the rapid onset of a changing climate is more immediate.
Flooding, drought, increased incidence of disease and excessive temperatures related to climate change can lead to school closures, student absenteeism, weaker physical and cognitive development, compounding the existing learning crisis.
Girls, marginalized groups and children living in fragile situations are disproportionately affected as climate change and environment impacts exacerbate existing gender and socio-economic inequalities.
Much has been written on both the impact of climate and environmental crises on education and the role of education in equipping people with the knowledge, skills and behavior change necessary to delivering sustainable and equitable societies. Education has always been at the forefront of societal change, but, evidence on the means by which it can help reduce carbon emissions or promote sustainability is weak.