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On Earth Day, Dingell & Brownley Introduce Bill to Promote Climate Literacy, Education

Washington, DC, April 22, 2019

– On Earth Day, Congresswomen Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Julia Brownley (D-CA) introduced legislation to promote education programs focused on climate to improve the public’s understanding of changes. The Climate Change Education Act creates a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assist state and local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and professional associations to improve climate literacy.

Climate change education teaches students of all age levels about climate adaptation and mitigation; climate resilience; and the effects of climate change on our environment, energy sources, and our social and economic systems. Only 30 percent of middle school teachers and only 45 percent of high school science teachers understand the extent of the scientific consensus on climate change, according to Yale University ResearchOver 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that human activity is the likely cause of climate change.

“Earth day is a reminder that we are borrowing the land we live on from future generations. Climate change is no longer some distant problem of the future and we must work together to halt the lasting impacts,” said Dingell. “I’m proud to introduce the Climate Change Education Act with my Senate and House colleagues so our next generation of leaders can develop the knowledge and skills needed to address the severe weather, rising sea levels, and droughts devastating our communities. Every student that graduates should be climate literate and prepared to help reverse the impacts of our changing climate. I thank Senator Markey for his partnership on this legislation.”

“My home state of California knows all too well the devastating economic and human toll brought by climate change, which has led to longer wildfire seasons and deadly disasters that have wreaked havoc on our local communities,” said Brownley. “That’s why it is imperative that we equip the next generation to understand the devastation climate change causes and to ensure they have the skills they need to curb the effects of climate change, protect public health, and build a competitive clean energy economy. Our future depends on it.”

In the House the bill is cosponsored by Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Seth Moulton (D-MA). Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced similar legislation in the Senate. The Climate Change Education Act is supported by the National Wildlife Federation, the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, Alliance for Climate Education, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, EarthDay Network, National Center for Science Education, National Recreation and Park Association, National Science Teachers Association, and North American Association for Environmental Education.

“The future our planet and all the creatures living on it depends on our ability to address climate change. The Climate Change Education Act will help equip our next generation of leaders – future educators, business leaders, public officials and others -- with the knowledge and skills to shape solutions to the climate crisis while fostering a prosperous and sustainable economy,” says Kevin Coyle, VP for Education at the National Wildlife Federation. “Empowering our youth through real climate education gives America its best chance to meet these 21st century challenges.”

"We are leaving our children a planet in far worse condition than we got it. So we have a deep moral obligation to at least give the next generation the tools, skills and attitudes to address the problems we are leaving them, starting with climate change, said James Edler, Director for Campaign for Environmental Literacy. We thank Congresswoman Dingell for her recognition of this obligation and for taking action."

The Climate Change Education Act would establish a grant program to promote climate literacy by broadening students’ and educators understanding of climate change, the consequences of climate change, and potential solutions. The Climate Change Education Act authorizes $20 million a year from 2020 through 2025 to be appropriated to NOAA to establish the Climate Education program office and administer the grant program.

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