The K12 Climate Action commission has embarked on a series of virtual listening sessions to hear about the experiences of students, parents, educators, school leaders, researchers, and policymakers working toward climate action in their schools and communities.

Listening Session I: Why Should Schools Move Toward Climate Action?

This listening session focused on the intersection of climate change and children’s health, the impact on frontline communities and communities of color, and district- and state-led initiatives to expand climate justice and climate change education in schools.

Public schools are one of the largest energy consumers in the public sector, use nearly 480,000 diesel school buses, and serve over 7 billion meals annually. Transitioning to more sustainable operations in these areas provides environmental benefits and learning opportunities for students. This listening session focused on how education systems can reduce their carbon footprints through energy, transportation, and food.

Extreme weather events such as flooding, wildfires, and hurricanes have already impacted schools across the country, threatening children’s health, safety, and wellbeing. This listening session focused on how education systems can adapt the impacts of climate change and improve their resiliency.

While schools transition toward sustainable operations and build resilience, educators can support teaching and learning on sustainability, the environment, and climate change to help ensure over 50 million students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to advance a more sustainable and resilient future. This listening session focused on how educators can prepare a new generation of students to address climate change.

Many children and youth attend out of school programming, which provide critical opportunities for experiential education. Similarly, nearly 9 million students take CTE courses which involve hands-on learning as preparation for job opportunities. This listening session focused on how out of school and CTE programs are uniquely positioned to engage youth in learning about sustainability and green careers.

Students, parents, educators, and activists have already found success in pushing schools to take climate action in their communities. Continuing to work for policy change in the education and environmental sectors will require continuing to build the movement to act. This listening session will focus on how we can continue to grow a movement that leads to widespread, sustained changes at all levels to support the education sector in moving toward climate action, solutions, and environmental justice.