Climate strikes have become a weekly event for students around the world wanting to send a message loud and clear: global leaders are not doing enough to address the climate crisis. Even during the pandemic, many have chosen to continue striking virtually. It is evident that many students are concerned about climate change and are unsatisfied with the climate education they are receiving.
A widespread education revolution that incorporates climate and environmental education with a strong emphasis on civic engagement will build tomorrow’s workforce from the ground up. Achieving climate and environmental literacy will develop citizens who are prepared to incorporate sustainability into any career, build a green consumer market and stimulate the economy. Climate and environmental education can also foster a new generation with the interest and skills needed to make responsible decisions in every aspect of their life, from their food choices to their transportation methods.
EARTHDAY.ORG is uniting a global network of grassroots efforts that support climate and environmental literacy, as well as gaining commitments from national governments and intergovernmental agencies to provide top-down support and resources. The Climate and Environmental Literacy Campaign states that every school in the world must have compulsory, assessed climate and environmental education with a strong civic engagement component.
Why work at a green job?
Green jobs are on the rise, according to sources such as the International Renewable Energy Agency and the US Energy Employment Report. Renewables accounted for an estimated 11.5 million jobs worldwide in 2019, compared to 11 million jobs in 2018. A green job refers to any job that substantially contributes to preserving or restoring environmental quality, encompassing work in fields from agriculture and manufacturing to research and development and administration.
A survey conducted by faculty at the University of Wisconsin found that 92% of young job seekers have an interest in working for an environmentally conscious business. Businesses may have more hiring success and less employee turnover if they engage in green initiatives that workers are proud to be a part of. Not only are green jobs more sought after by potential employees, but jobs with environmental components have been linked to increased satisfaction and creativity in one’s career.
A green workforce is central to a decentralized energy economy
Energy is intrinsic to the economic discussion. Current commercial energy relies heavily on fossil fuels and centralized energy generation. The EPA defines centralized generation as “the large-scale generation of electricity at centralized facilities.” Centralized generation was popularized in the latter half of the 20th century when utilities found it more economical to connect their delivery systems. Unfortunately, the adoption of centralized energy planning has contributed to environmental degradation, without the energy needs of rural and urban poor communities in mind.
On the other hand, a decentralized energy economy takes a regional planning approach that considers the available resources and demands in a specific region. The transition to decentralized energy requires a climate-educated workforce. Climate and environmental education will prepare students for these opportunities.
Adopting decentralized energy in communities builds their resilience to natural disasters and ensures more stable energy connections. A decentralized energy economy also lends itself to more renewable energy sources and green jobs. Think small hydro power plants, as well as wind, solar and biomass-based solutions that are dependent upon the geographic characteristics of the specific community! One example of this type of integrated energy system is the pelagic Xisha Islands in China. These islands collect energy from solar, wind and wave power and in turn promote local economic and social development.
Environmental education deserves a prominent spot amongst the lessons that are already taught in subjects such as math, science and literature. Ensuring that students have the knowledge to tackle climate change — and enter the green economy — starts today. Join us in building climate literacy in every classroom in the world by signing up for our campaign and using our resources to guide your environmental education lessons any day of the year.
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