US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts Ed Markey
Washington (March 25, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), with Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Julia Brownley (CA-26), today reintroduced the Climate Change Education Act. This legislation would create a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assist state and local education agencies improve climate literacy, as well as institutions of higher education and professional associations. It will help ensure that students at all age levels are taught about climate adaptation and mitigation; climate resilience; and the effects of climate change on the environment, energy sources, and social and economic systems, including environmental and climate justice.
“Recent scientific reports have outlined exactly how catastrophic climate change will be if left unchecked, and how urgent and global our response must be,” said Senator Markey. “This bill will help provide our students, teachers, and workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to understand climate change and participate in a global clean energy economy. I thank Reps. Dingell and Brownley for their partnership on this legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues on prioritizing the issue of climate change in our education systems.”
“We cannot confront climate change if we do not understand the impact it will have on our lives and what we can do to combat it. Students learning these lessons today will be on the frontlines of the fight to save our planet,” said Representative Dingell. “With this legislation, we can ensure our students and teachers are equipped with the knowledge and support they need to help us overcome this existential threat.”
“It is imperative that we prepare future generations with the proper skills to understand and address the climate crisis, and education is critical to our success,” said Representative Brownley. “In recent years, my state and the nation have seen first-hand the human and economic tolls that the climate crisis is having on our communities caused by wildfires, flooding, and other extreme weather events. In addition to taking action now, we must educate our young people to ensure a safer, more prosperous tomorrow.”
Original co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Original co-sponsors of the legislation in the House include Reps Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Jim McGovern (MA-2), and Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25).
Only 30 percent of middle school teachers and only 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the extent of the scientific consensus on climate change. The Climate Change Education Act would support professional development for teachers; science, technology, health and engineering education; the development of climate literacy curricula; and improve the quality of and access to training and certification for jobs that incorporate climate mitigation. The Climate Change Education Act authorizes $50 million a year from 2021 through 2026 to be appropriated to NOAA to establish the Climate Education program office and administer the grant program.
The Climate Change Education Act is endorsed by the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, American Federation of Teachers, US Green Building Council, National Wildlife Federation, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, National Center for Science Education, Second Nature, National Science Teaching Association, and the North American Association for Environmental Education.
“As a major greenhouse gas emitter, the U.S. has a responsibility to act so that our young people stand a fighting chance against the threat of climate change,” said Kevin Coyle, Counsel to the President and CEO at the National Wildlife Federation. “The funding this bill will provide is crucial to support the development of climate literacy curricula, professional development for teachers, and science, technology, health and engineering education. We are grateful to Senator Markey and Congresswoman Dingell for their leadership and for ensuring that environmental justice is included within climate change education so that communities most affected by climate impacts can have a say in the solutions we enact.”
“Our students – and generations after them – will have to navigate the impacts of climate change on their lives, future jobs and changing environment. It is our duty as educators and leaders to build students’ understanding of the climate crisis, the role we all play in it, and how we can be part of the solution. We must incorporate climate literacy and education into our teaching so more people understand the urgency, and how to tackle it,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “This bill accomplishes these goals by providing learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom and promoting programs related to climate adaptation, and resilience and, environmental and climate justice. With these programs, we can work to educate the next generation to be significantly more aware of the climate crisis, and what to do about it.”