UK government publishes climate-focused education strategy

21st April 2022

The UK government has today unveiled a new strategy detailing how the country's education sector will become a “world leader in climate change” by 2030.

The Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy confirms plans to accelerate the rollout of carbon literacy training to support at least one sustainability lead in every nursery, school, college and university managed by a local authority.

A new GCSE in natural history will also be introduced by September 2025, enabling young people to gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world, and of broader environmental and sustainability issues.

Furthermore, the government has pledged greater support for teaching climate change at all levels, and by 2023, there will be new requirements for further education teachers to build sustainability into their teaching.

The aim of the strategy is to equip young people with the skills needed to forge careers that help deliver net-zero emissions by 2050, while preparing them for a world impacted by climate change.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “We are delivering a better, safer, greener world for future generations and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change.

“The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit of this country makes me confident that we will win this fight.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that young people are already very committed to a more sustainable planet. We should be proud of this, and I want to do everything I can to encourage this passion so they can be agents of change in protecting our planet.”

The measures are expected to build on the government’s pledge for every new school delivered under its school rebuilding programme, to be cleaner, greener and net-zero in operation.

IEMA's CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE responded:

"We know it is crucial that young people are equipped with the green skills and knowledge to enter the workforce, at a time when we face devastating climate change. We can already see the destruction of our planet and we must be suitably prepared to fight back with competencies embedded now, to have any chance of keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees. Our own research with students found they were crying out for this kind of course and want to do far more to save our planet and create a greener future."

The rollout of ultra-low carbon education buildings will also be accelerated, and by 2025, at least four schools and one college will have been built via the Gen Zero Platform demonstrated at COP26.

Introducing a new GCSE in natural history was previously recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee. Chairman, Philip Dunne, said he was “delighted” with today's announcement.

“We were very clear in our reports on biodiversity and ecosystems that we are facing a ticking time bomb of mass biodiversity loss, with the UK the most nature-depleted of G7 countries,” he continued.

“This is exactly the right sort of intervention needed to make lasting change and to launch young people who might choose the growing career prospects in ecology and nature.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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