Climate Justice: In Paris and In Our Classrooms

This past weekend was one of the largest climate mobilizations in history. Throughout the world more than 785,000 participated in demonstrations. As’s May Boeve wrote, “Melbourne hosted Australia’s biggest climate action ever (60,000 people!), tens of thousands of Filipinos danced through Quezon City for climate justice, Egyptians ran and then marched through the streets of Cairo—and so much more.”

As Howard Zinn frequently reminded us, positive social change comes from grassroots movements, and is never simply bestowed from on high. It’s a point worth remembering as the UN climate talks get underway in Paris. Any progress to address the climate catastrophe will be the result of worldwide activism to demand a just transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy—and policies that help the most vulnerable deal with the climate disruptions underway.

Educators have an important role to play. It’s up to us to help students probe the roots of the climate crisis, to recognize its unequal impact, and to imagine lasting solutions.

The Zinn Education Project has posted several lessons at our site—available for free, as are all our resources:

The best teaching resource on the climate crisis is A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching Climate Change and the Environmental Crisis, edited by Bill Bigelow and Tim Swinehart, and published by Rethinking Schools. According to Teaching Tolerance, “This is the kind of book that can change the way young people look at everything.”

And for the best ongoing coverage of the UN climate talks in Paris—and the social movements confronting climate change—see Democracy Now! Amy Goodman and the DN! team are in Paris for the full two weeks of activities.