COP26 x Education

For those of you living a sheltered life away from mainstream media, you may have missed the news about the COP26 event that has just sprung from the stalls in Glasgow.

The COP26 summit is bringing multiple parties together from across the world to accelerate positive action towards the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The goal of the conference is to unite the world to fight climate change.

Climate change is a worldwide issue that we cannot hide from, it should be dealt with, with the utmost urgency and importance because without access to the correct information, the right tools or the right skills we have no hope.

Education is one of the greatest tools we have at our disposal for raising awareness and supplying future generations with the required skills and knowledge to tackle climate change head-on and bring it under control. We will always need the spark from some of the brightest academic minds to forge our way forward towards sustainable solutions but also ensure that everyone is educated to a minimum standard so they are aware of the true value nature holds to us.

Why is the COP26 such a big event?

For almost three decades, the United Nations has brought together almost every country on the planet for global climate summits. We have seen climate change turn from a fringe issue to a priority in the space of a generation, which is scarier than any horror film or natural disaster movie. As much as I enjoy watching the Day after Tomorrow, I would rather not live it.

The COP26 is being described as the last chance saloon for all nations to pull together and work as a cohesive unit to tackle a global issue. Unlike the pandemic that caused major division and shut each country away from each other, the opposite approach is required here. Whilst the pandemic has been terrible, it means that we have an opportunity to revamp our education system to be more sustainable in a variety of different ways as we build back up. 

The event is unique as it has brought education and environmental ministers from all over to discuss how they can further integrate sustainable development into education and engage young people to take an active role.

The goals of COP26

  • Secure global net-zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

All countries have been asked to produce 2030 emission reduction targets in order to keep us on track for achieving net-zero by the mid-century. In order to deliver on these targets, it will involve countries:

  1. Accelerating the phase-out of coal.
  2. Curtailing deforestation.
  3. Ramp up the uptake/switch to electric vehicles.
  4. Encourage wider investment into renewables.

  • Mobilise finance

Developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least £100 billion in climate finance per annum. International financial institutions must also play their part with a number of businesses accruing more wealth than a large proportion of governments with trillions required from the private sector required to help hit global net zero.

  • Adapt to protect communities and habitats

Whilst reducing emissions will have a profound effect it won’t radically change the climate. Devastating ramifications are still going to occur because of the state we find ourselves in currently. The COP26 aim to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change too:

  1. Protect and restore ecosystems.
  2. Build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure to protect homes, jobs and most importantly lives.

The role education plays in the fight against climate change

Education is a critical agent in addressing the issue of climate change. Responsibility has been assigned to all COP26 members to undertake educational and public awareness campaigns on the impact of climate change and ensure public participation Education empowers and encourages people to change their attitudes and behaviour through informed decision making. Being able to determine fact from fiction eliminates the fear typically associated with the media’s doom and gloom portrayal of global situations.

From primary school, students following the UK curriculum are taught about the effects and causes of climate change. Whilst, GCSE students study the environment as a core part of their science, geography and citizenship syllabus. 

There are 5 core ways that education can help to protect our planet:

  • Raising Awareness

The students of today are the citizens and consumers of tomorrow. Their behaviours and decisions will affect the environment so educating them to realise the value they hold as agents of social change in society. Initiatives to prevent and mitigate the impact of climate change through education may allow children, young people and adults to get a better understanding of the impact of global warming on their possibilities to enjoy their fundamental human rights.

  • Build resilient communities

Local and indigenous knowledge has contributed to ecosystem functioning, early warning systems for natural disasters and adaptation and resilience to changes in the climate. Traditional knowledge from areas revolving around agriculture, food production and conservation has played an incredibly important role in sustainability for numerous centuries.

Land management practices from those deeply rooted in their local communities are being recognized as excellent approaches to conserve biodiversity and maintaining an ecosystem and as such should be taught to future generations, to enhance and develop these ideas.

  • Create deeper knowledge banks

Our current knowledge on the climate crisis is based upon solid scientific research and data that scientists from across the world are continuously analysing and creating new models with. They create the basis of all policy recommendations in reports provide to governments across the globe. Researchers and academics develop all of this research to understand the cause, consequence and magnitude of global warming-related emergencies.

  • Find solutions to unresolved problems

As the crisis continues to unfold, education, skills and innovative ideas based upon sound scientific evidence and research is required to find adept solutions and mitigate the damages that will still be caused even if we reach net zero.

  • Holding leaders accountable

Citizens that have been educated to a high level are better equipped to hold leaders accountable and apply pressure on their governments to enact change and take decisive actions against a crisis. 

How Sherpa aims to contribute to the fight against climate change

Unlike other education establishments, we are very clued into the impact we have and realise the value held in providing high quality, affordable education. Revolutionary ideas should not be locked behind a paywall - those with the natural ability to affect real change should not be hampered by a single grade so we are actively looking into ways that we can counteract this injustice through tuition.

The benefits of dedicated one to one tutoring are well remarked, one of its biggest benefits is that it offers students deeper learning experiences. There is only a finite amount of time students have at school learning topics that carry so much complexity and depth which is tough for teachers to spend extended periods of time diving deeper into. However, with tutoring students are able to “pause” a lesson and engage in a particular segment of a topic to develop an understanding as deep as they want. This is particularly important when it comes to driving innovation and change as it helps students engage proactively in topics and develop their own unique ideas.

We are constantly looking at ways in which we can add greater value to the education industry through unique, innovative methods. We want to live in a world where access to high-quality education is accessible to all and that the students of tomorrow don’t require a piece of paper to enact global change.

If you are interested in reading more about climate change, I recommend reading our article on the sixth mass extinction event that is currently underway. It provides great detail on one of Sir David Attenborough's "A Life on our Planet" Netflix special.

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James Gurnett

4th November

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