Climate change education legislation revived in New York

Two new bills in the New York legislature partly revive the attempt — manifest in five bills in the previous legislative session — to support climate change education in the Empire State.

Assembly Bill 617 would, if enacted, establish a climate change education grant program "to award grants to eligible applicants to support climate change education grant programs for young people or to provide optional teacher training or professional development programs relevant to the advance of climate change literacy in young people."

Introduced by Linda B. Rosenthal (D-District 67) and referred to the Assembly Committee on Education, AB 617 is substantially identical to Assembly Bill 9831 and Senate Bill 6837, which were introduced in the 2019-2020 legislative session but ultimately died in committee. A broadly similar bill was enacted in Washington in 2018, as NCSE previously reported.

(A Senate version of AB 617, Senate Bill 4683, was introduced on February 8, 2021, by Todd Kaminsky (D-District 9), and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications.)

Senate Bill 596 would, if enacted, require the state commissioner of education to offer "recommendations to the board of regents relating to the adoption of instruction in climate science in senior high schools," including "the effect and impact of greenhouse gasses" and New York's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Introduced by Rachel May (D and Working Families-District 53), SB 596 is identical to Senate Bill 6877, which was introduced in the 2019-2020 legislative session but ultimately died in committee. No counterpart bill to SB 6877 was ever introduced in the Assembly, and no counterpart bill to SB 596 is yet introduced in the Assembly.

Two bills from the 2019-2020 legislative session seeking to establish a model climate change curriculum in all public elementary and secondary schools have not yet been revived.

[Updated on March 19, 2021, by the addition of the fourth paragraph.]


Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.