Alka Kapur, (CBSE & State Awardee) Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi is an empowering leader, a zealous educationist with rich academic and administrative experience offering an illustrious career of 32 years in educational research. As the Principal of the school, she has taken the school to great heights through open attitude for learning and love for children. Twenty years of her sedulous selfless service as the Principal of the school has accorded the school a priceless status in Forbes India Marquee Edition, The Great Indian Schools.
Education is a key driver in addressing issues related to climate change crisis and global warming as it empowers individuals with the knowledge, skills, values, and attributes to become agents of change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been promoting the undertaking of education and public awareness on climate change to encourage public participation in the campaign and ensure information access on the issue.
Environment education in schools nurtures young minds with the various aspects of global warming and encourages students to change their attitude towards the issue and take informed decisions in the future. Proper education on the impacts of climate change also eliminates the fear and confusions on the issue and builds a society which will actively take part in the transformation towards a sustainable development.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has been stressing on the need for environmental literacy, by researching on how the new-age children are growing up in the era of rapid climate change. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has earlier launched “Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development” program to enhance climate literacy by helping the general mass understand the impact of global warming. Other similar initiatives have also been undertaken like Global Action Programme (GAP), Action for Climate Empowerment and the Zoom campaign.
To address climate change through a holistic approach, the United Nations promoted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also featured climate change and need for climate actions. While the targets set in the SDGs are ambitious, they can be achieved only through proper education and mass awareness on the issue. Environment literacy drives need to more aggressively organized to create a culture of care for the climate.
The United Nations have repeatedly noted that to make progress in the areas like greenhouse gases, deforestation, recycling, green jobs, green taxes, water footprint, sustainable food, and carbon footprint, there should be effective government policies to facilitate education and training on these issues at mass level.
Experts have been suggesting the climate education should be imparted to children right from the very beginning of the schooling to develop better environmental behavior. While climate education should be made a mandatory subject in schools, educational institutions can also work on strategizing several climate related activities for the students. Technological advancements has made it easier to access resources related to climate change like study materials on climate change and responsible consumption of energy and mobility, etc.
One of the major reasons behind the rapidly changing climate is worldwide population growth and the over-exploitation of natural resources. The SDG 4 of the Paris agreement focuses on the increase in the education level among women; this can be a major driver in promoting climate change awareness and knowledge among the masses. Proper training on the issue will help people to understand the physical changes in their environment and help them to assimilate information, calculate the risk factors, and get prepared for the changes to take proper actions.
According to researches, if just 16 per cent of students in high and middle-income countries were provided climate change education, the world carbon dioxide emission can be reduced by 19 gigaton by 2050. There should be appropriate training programs by schools to spark the scientific curiosity of the students on environmental issues; which in the long run will create greener job opportunities.