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Introduce climate science to school curricula: Activists at COP26

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Activists on Monday demanded focus on introducing climate science to the curricula in schools by asking politicians gathered at the ongoing 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in this Scottish city.

They are members of Fridays For Future Climate Education, Youth Advocates for ACE, Climate Freak, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Global Youth Development Institute and Eco Champions, supported by over 15 organizations.

Article 6 and 12 of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement state the importance of climate education to combat climate change.

The responsibility of fighting the climate crisis and providing the essential knowledge lies strongly in the hands of the government. It is the duty of the ministry of education to enrich the already present studies with the information most needed in the current times.

According to activist groups, a collective effort from all governments will ensure that climate education is treated as an elemen
tary necessity for the students, and is implemented with the newest scientific research and a modern approach in mind.

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The Declaration for Climate Education, if signed by the parties of the UN Climate Change Conference, will bring climate education to the political agenda.

In the past week at COP26, young climate leaders came together in Glasgow with negotiators, officials and ministers from across the world, making their voices heard and demanding the action needed to prevent catastrophic climate change in our lifetimes.

Events across COP26 focused on harnessing the expertise of young people and putting their views directly to the negotiators and officials working to agree global action on climate change.

YOUNGO, the official Children’s and Youth constituency of the UNFCCC which opened with a session called Unifying for Change: Global Youth voice, also presented the COY16 Global Youth Position statement, representing the views of over 40,000 young climate leaders from across the world.

The statement presented their priorities directly to ministers, including action on climate finance, mobility and transportation, through to wildlife protection conservation.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “Wherever I have been in the world, I have been struck by the passion and the commitment of young people to climate action. The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP.

“I am also aware of the fear and anxiety many of them feel about the future of the planet, including my own children. That is why we must act on the COY16 Global Youth Position Statement from COY16 and the manifesto from the Milan Youth4Climate Summit.”

Recognising climate change as an existential threat to humanity, an optimistic Indian schoolgirl from Tamil Nadu has impressed world leaders with an impressive address at COP26, saying she’s not just from India but from Earth.

The finalist of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, 15-year-old Vinisha Umashankar, amidst the presence of heads of state and government delegations said: “I’m not just a girl from India. I’m a girl from earth and I’m proud to be so.”

“I’m also a student, innovator, environmentalist and entrepreneur but most importantly, I’m an optimist,” she said emphatically in her brief address that got a rousing applause from the audience, comprising Prince William, who stood on stage and proudly listened to her speech.

The UK, hosting COP26, on November 5 announced its draft Sustainability and Climate Change strategy to equip and empower young people with the skills they need to drive the future of climate action.

This includes the introduction of a Primary Science Model Curriculum, to include an emphasis on nature and the recognition of species, supporting the youngest pupils to develop conservation skills.

Education Ministers from around the world also pledged to do the same with nations such as, South Korea, Albania and Sierra Leone pledging to put climate change at the heart of their curriculums.

COP26 follows a huge range of youth events and conferences across the world, including the Youth4Climate Summit Milan in September and the 16th UN Conference of Youth (COY16) in Glasgow last week.

The UK and Italy, in partnership with UNESCO, Youth4Climate and Mock COP coordinated new global action to equip future generations with the knowledge and skills to create a net-zero world.

As education ministers and young people gathered together, over 23 countries put forward impressive national climate education pledges, ranging from decarbonising the school sector to developing school resources.

The UK also announced a new 85,000 pounds research grant to support the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre to produce better information on the education needs of refugee children and enable a more effective international response.

The November 5 event coincided with negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment, a UNFCCC agenda item aimed at setting the direction on climate education and public empowerment, and facilitating coordination between countries and non-state actors.

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