"Green Light for Comprehensive Climate Change Education"

Two students examining climate graphs.

Just in time for Earth Day, "Green Light for Comprehensive Climate Change Education" — a new report from The Public Matters and the Center for Sustainable Futures, both at Teachers College, Columbia University — reports that there is strong public support in the United States for comprehensive climate change education.

"A large majority of Americans (80%) say it is important that elementary and secondary school students learn about climate change," according to the report, with 50 percent of respondents thinking that it is very important and 31 percent thinking that it is somewhat important; 10 percent thought that it is somewhat unimportant and 9 percent thought that it is not important at all. "The 2023 survey shows a modest increase in public support."

The survey also asked about various "contents and competencies" related to climate change, finding that "[a] strong majority agree that schools should teach how to identify false and misleading information about climate change (strongly agree 50%, somewhat agree 36%) and that schools should teach about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change (strongly agree 45%, somewhat agree 42%).

A strong majority also agree "that states should include climate change in their standards to ensure that all students have a foundational understanding of climate change and they are prepared for the future (strongly agree 43%, somewhat agree 38%)" and "that states should mandate that all teachers be prepared so they have the knowledge and instructional tools to improve teaching about climate change (strongly agree 35%, somewhat agree 42%)."

The study surveyed 2019 adults online from March 16 to March 31, 2023, using a nationally representative sample, compiled using demographic quotes based on census percentages for representation. "For percentages based on the entire sample, the approximate margin of error is +/‐ 3.2%."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.