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Youth Call for Climate Education to Be Taught in Schools

To coincide with Earth Day, the New York City Council, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) and Global Kids held a joint press conference this morning on the steps of New York City Hall to push for statewide climate education for K-12 schools in New York. Resolution 0375-2014 calls for climate education to be included in the New York State school curriculum and it currently has 21 of the 26 needed sponsors to pass.

According to a report released on Monday by the Yale Project on Climate Change, only about half of Americans (52 percent) think that global warming, if it’s happening, is caused by humans. And, only about one in 10 Americans understands that over 90 percent of climate scientists think human-caused global warming is happening. Campaigns that spread doubt about climate change are winning, but young people see a better path forward: better, early education about climate change.

Today’s youth understand that the key to climate action at scale is an informed public, which is why they’re leading the way by demanding that climate change be taught in their classrooms across the country.

Research shows us that education remains a fundamental ingredient in ensuring citizens are ready for their leaders to take swift action on climate. It was recently demonstrated in another Yale Project on Climate Change report that there is a strong correlation between senators' acknowledgement of manmade climate change, and the general public opinion of their constituents.

Annie Willis, a high school student currently serving in a yearlong Fellowship with ACE and Global Kids in New York, wants all of her fellow New Yorkers and elected leaders to be educated. She says she knows the realities of a changing climate all too well:

"I am angry that Sandy destroyed my house and that over two years later, we, high school students, are not being properly informed. Students have the right to know about the causes of climate change and the solutions to address it."

These students in New York are part of a growing national and global movement. Just this Monday in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee announced a new partnership with ACE that will provide climate education to all San Francisco public high school students. Mayor Lee is preparing to host the Annual Conference of Mayors in June, and he’s calling on cities across America to join San Francisco in immediately implementing climate education for all students. Speaking at an ACE Assembly at Raoul Wallenberg High School on Monday afternoon, Lee said:

“San Francisco is the first major city to embrace climate science education for students, and I will be engaging mayors from across the country to join in and equip young people with the knowledge to understand the causes of climate change and the solutions to reverse its effects.”

ACE Fellows in New York and across the U.S. say they plan to scale this climate education campaign globally. They’ll apply pressure to international governments, urging the United Nations General Assembly in September to prioritize climate education. ACE will send a delegation of Fellows from around the nation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to host an official event. There, youth will call for the global climate agreement to include climate education as a priority.

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