What can I do about climate change? Some resources for school workshops
10th July 2019

I have been doing some workshops in schools recently, on climate science and action, in response to requests from students or teachers. I am not an expert in environmental education or climate communication – though I have taken advice from them. My aim is to do what I can to share my knowledge and help local schools.

I promised a list of resources, so here goes.

The best very short explanation of climate change I’ve seen is Kim Nicholas’ five-point summary: 1) it’s warming; 2) it’s us; 3) we’re sure; 4) it’s bad; 5) we can fix it.

This four-minute clip of the longer David Attenborough documentary Climate Change: The Facts is a stark explanation of the climate crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), representing scientists, have produced this handbook for schools.

NASA’s Climate Kids website has simple explanations of the issues.

This is a beautiful speech for schoolchildren, written by climate communicator Genevieve Guenther (@climatevive on Twitter). It covers the science and politics of climate change, and what students can do.

The charity Global Action Plan has produced a Climate Chaos Response Toolkit for teachers.

The UK Student Climate Network, who organise the school strikes, has a good website, including a list of ten reasons to take action.

Lastly, for my local schools in Cumbria, the brilliant charity Cumbria Action for Sustainability  are the place to go for local info.

And some suggestions for things that students can do:

  • Join the Fridays for Future school strikes – the UK Student Climate Network says how
  • Go and see your MP and local politicians (the charity Hope For The Future have some great resources on this)
  • Get active in politics (you don’t need to be old enough to vote)
  • This ‘audacious toolkit’ by Julia Steinberger gives lots of ideas for activism
  • Join an environmental organisation – like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, or the Worldwide Fund for Nature – there are lots out there to choose from
  • Volunteer for a local environment project
  • Help (pester) your school to take action – save energy, buy renewable energy, reduce resource use and plastics
  • Set up an eco-group in school, and partner with one in a different country
  • Talk to family and friends about the climate crisis, and what can be done
  • Think about careers – what jobs would allow you to be paid to combat climate change?
  • And finally – think about your own impact, and your family’s impact. This quiz from WWF-UK allows you to calculate your environmental footprint and gives you tips for action. Kim Nicholas has a graph of the best things you can do,  based on a survey of scientific evidence – everything from new lightbulbs to taking fewer flights and eating a plant-based diet.

It’s important to acknowledge that thinking about the climate crisis can be quite overwhelming, for both adults and children. Make sure you talk about how you feel, and ask for help if you are worried. The talk by Genevieve Guenther that I listed above discusses this.

With thanks to lots of people who offered thoughts and ideas when I asked on Twitter,and to students for ideas which came from them.

About author

Rebecca Willis

Climate Citizens: A new research initiative at Lancaster University

<p>I have been doing some workshops in schools rec...

Read more

Letter to the Prime Minister about the proposed Cumbria coal mine

<p>I have been doing some workshops in schools rec...

Read more

Lessons from the coalface: what the Cumbria coal mine story tells us about UK climate strategy

<p>I have been doing some workshops in schools rec...

Read more