Climate Change Education for Carbon Mitigation and Environmental Justice

Klimek, Adelyn, Environmental Sciences - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Macko, Stephen, Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

Climate change is the most significant environmental threat to current and future generations, and to mitigate its impacts, a drastic shift is needed in the way energy, materials, and natural resources are used. While advancements in clean energy, energy efficiency, and carbon sequestration will all have a crucial role in climate change mitigation, these sectors do not address the societal shift that is needed for these advancements to be successfully implemented. Climate change education is a powerful tool to accomplish this and is severely lacking in the United States and around the world. This education can have impacts beyond generating public support for climate change policies, including decreasing individual carbon emissions and fostering more pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. However, the way in which climate change education is implemented and taught will impact the carbon reduction potential it has.

Common themes are identified across successful climate education programs, including variables of ownership, empowerment, and personal relevance that are key to changing behavior and decision-making, as well as engaging teaching methods and project-based learning that prepares students to take action in their communities. Climate change education is also a powerful tool to support environmental justice, particularly grassroots and community-led movements that will lead to improved environmental and human health and reduced emissions, as well as contribute to global environmental justice movements. The interest in climate change education is growing globally, as awareness of climate change impacts and solutions also grows, and research increasingly links climate change education to positive behavior changes. A successful and comprehensive global education model will have cascading impacts on awareness and actions of generations to come, and can drastically improve climate change outcomes.

MA (Master of Arts)
Environmental education, Climate change education, Environmental Justice education
Issued Date: