Five years into the Paris Agreement – Education International calls for governments to step up action on the climate emergency and prioritise the implementation of climate literacy for all

published 11 December 2020 updated 16 July 2024

Tomorrow, 12 December 2020, marks the 5-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. As world leaders convene virtually to demonstrate their continued commitment, Education International calls for increased ambition and further acknowledgement of education’s important role in combatting the climate emergency.

Not enough progress

Five years ago, world leaders came together and promised to tackle the climate crisis. They committed to ensure that global temperatures do not rise more than 2 degrees and to aim to limit global heating to under 1.5 degrees. However, action taken so far has been far from enough to avert imminent climate disaster. 2020 is set to be 1.2C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures, and increasingly frequent and destructive extreme weather events are causing unprecedented human suffering, especially for the most vulnerable.

Greater ambition needed

With COP 26 postponed until next year, the UN, the UK and France, in partnership with Italy and Chile, are hosting a Climate Ambition Summit. Leaders are being called upon to make new, more ambitious pledges to tackle climate change. Governments have been asked to submit updated NDCs (nationally determined contributions) that set out credible implementation plans to reach more ambitious targets.

Action for Climate Empowerment is key

Education International urges all governments to update their NDCs promptly and ambitiously, and to ensure that the NDC includes a commitment to implement the Action for Climate Empowerment(ACE) agenda (which aims to promote climate education as well as training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation and international cooperation).

Education International campaigns for universal compulsory climate literacy

Recently, Education International joined EarthDay.Org in its campaign calling for all governments to make climate education compulsory, assessed and coupled with a strong civic component. The campaign urges governments to make climate education a core subject in curricula, rather than a neglected add-on.

Education International members are invited to sign on to an open letter to the signatories of the Paris Agreement. The letter urges them to take bold action on climate and environmental literacy - ensuring that it is integrated and embedded across all grade levels and disciplines - and to support poorer countries’ efforts to meet their climate education goals.

Speaking about the campaign, Haldis Holst, Deputy Secretary General of Educational International, said: “The climate crisis is increasingly touching every country, community, and school across the globe. Teachers are reporting that many young pupils are showing signs of fear and of anxiety about their futures. A commitment to put climate education into the core of curricula is thus not just about equipping youth with the skills and the knowledge they will need as adults. It is also about healing, hope and engagement in the solutions that can, if the world steps up ambition, solve this crisis in time.”

To watch the climate ambition summit, register here: Climate Ambition Summit 2020

To find out more about and join the Climate Literacy Campaign, see: Climate Literacy | EARTHDAY.ORG

To access EI’s guide for education unions and educators on the climate emergency in education: “Education: A Powerful Tool for Combatting Climate Change”, click here.