DfE has recently established a Sustainability and Climate Change Unit to “co-ordinate and drive activity across the Department and our sectors” and it is currently preparing a Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.   It aims to launch the strategy for public consultation to coincide with COP26.

The DfE says that the strategy is likely to centre on four strategic aims: [1] Net Zero by 2050; [2] Resilience to climate change; [3] a better environment for future generations; and [4] citizens connected to nature. Each outcome, it says, will relate to all these sectors: Early Years, Schools, Further Education, Higher Education, Children’s Social Care, as well as the DfE organisation itself. All of this is to be managed, as we noted yesterday, without changing the national curriculum because there is no need.

DfE also says that it is reviewing how climate risks are captured in the investment management process and is planning to recruit an environmental analyst / scientist to review business cases and make sure decision-makers in the department are aware of the environmental impact of new policies and major programmes.  Just how effective all this will prove, we shall see.

DfE was also asked recently [1] what it considers to be the biggest challenges related to climate change mitigation and adaptation that fall within its remit, and [2] how it plans to address these.

In response, DfE identified the following challenges: [i] ensuring the school and college estate contributes to net zero targets and is more resilient to climate change; [ii] ensuring that the green jobs taskforce is effective; [iii] ensuring that the generation that will have to live and work in a world affected by climate change are well prepared for it. Point [ii] lies with the remit of the Sustainability and Climate Change Unit.

DfE has not accepted the idea that all jobs are now green jobs – as NAEE argued in its evidence to the EAC inquiry earlier this year. This is a pity; had it done so, it might have been less ready to assume that the current school curriculum arrangements are fit for purpose.

1 Comment

  1. This is a very weak approach to what is now a global emergency for young people facing climate change in a world whose governments are failing to act.
    1)Aiming to reduce carbon emissions (achieve ‘net zero’ – which it would help to explain to readers) from buildings is a good thing, but does not contribute a great deal to changing minds or building knowledge. 2) “Resilience” is preparing for the inevitable, which is necessary as climate change is already upon us, but does not even introduce students to the essential concept of climate mitigation – cutting fossil fuel emissions in every way possible over the next couple of decades while there’s still some chance to make this change – AND teaching them why it’s essential for a their well-being; 3) a “better environment” is extremely vague and therefore rather meaningless in terms of intentions, and 4) being “connected to nature” doesn’t make people more sustainable unless they change their every day behaviours – which is now also vitally necessary to learn about – what being “sustainable” means. For the sake of all young people today, you need to join Greta, and teach young people how to work together, to act to get their whole countries to do better, to call on politicians and corporations to get off fossil fuels, and to give them some serious, practical knowledge about what possible sustainability entails.
    It’s not enough to make the next generation prepared to live in a world affected by climate change: we need to give them a fighting change to fight it.

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