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The Key series: Why education is crucial in tackling the climate change crisis

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To mark Earth Day, the latest in our The Key series looks at the role education can play in protecting and nurturing the environment.

Getting children back to school is crucial in the wake of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and typhoons. But education is also key in tackling the wider climate change crisis.

The links may not be obvious at a first glance - but they are clear and measurable. On the eve of Earth Day today, that was the message from Education as the Key to Climate Change - the latest in The Key series, Theirworld’s live discussions on how education can unlock big change.

The event featured Julia Jackson, founder and CEO of the non-profit Grounded, and Dr Rachel Brown, one of Theirworld’s Global Youth Ambassadors. The conversation was hosted by Emily Friedman, Head of Business Investment for Education at Theirworld’s initiative the Global Business Coalition for Education.

“We need to educate people to adopt a culture of caring for the environment. It needs to be a permanent fixture of school and education. We need environmental literacy," said Rachel. "If we do not know what the problem is, it will be impossible to solve it.

"As young people, we have the biggest stake in the future. We are the ones directly affected by it. We need to learn right now, to have that curriculum in schools right now. It’s the little things that will make the difference. Our youth can make those changes very easily."

Julia said the link between the environment and education is one that Grounded is pushing. She added: "We want to empower the public to get behind solutions. We think they will be more inspired to act if we educate them.

“You can't not be educated on our planet. We are dependent upon it for our very survival.”

Education can address the threat of climate change by helping people understand the root causes and impact of climate change, as well as shifting their behaviour and attitudes towards more sustainable lifestyles. It is a particularly useful tool for providing important information about the climate and environment to young people.

Higher levels of education are associated with more environmentally friendly lifestyles, increased skills for green-based technology jobs and better farming practices.

Several studies have also revealed that additional investment in education can reduce carbon emissions. Projections show that educating girls could result in a massive reduction in emissions of 51.48 gigatons by 2050.

If upper-secondary schooling for everyone was achieved by 2030, it could prevent 200,000 disaster-related deaths in 20 years. But if progress towards achieving education for all is halted, disaster-related deaths could increase by 20% per decade.

The Key is a comprehensive information resource to equip anyone to advocate powerfully for education. It demonstrates how education underpins nearly every single social and economic goal.