Recent findings on irreversible tipping points (see the 6th IPCC report and this Science article) confirm that human damage to the environment is worse than expected and could soon outstrip our ability to adapt. These effects are already resulting in additional costs, both to education financing and on children’s learning.
From the Stern review to the Dasgupta report, much has been made of the role of education in addressing environmental challenges. In a recent study, politicians and business leaders identified education in the top five policy areas able to achieve economic and climate goals.
Education also features as article 6 in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international treaty guiding action on climate. Despite all this, the education community is only beginning to grapple with how education can contribute at a scale and speed commensurate with the climate emergency.
Naming and framing
As a starting point, it is helpful to secure common agreement on problem framing and associated terminology. The shorthand of ‘climate change’ has been adopted by many, but climate is just one component in a broader set of interconnected environmental processes on which we rely and which our education must help us understand (see figure below).