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School leaders warn that climate change is impacting pupils and education, at COP28

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As the COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference opens today (Thurs 30 Nov), school leaders’ union NAHT has warned that it is ‘deeply concerned’ at climate crisis and the impact it is having on pupils, education workers and communities across the world.

As part of a submission to the COP28 TUC delegation, NAHT has called for governments to use COP28 ‘to prioritise their actions before it is too late’, pointing out that extreme climate events are disrupting the education of nearly 40 million children a year worldwide.

NAHT’s International Secretary, Helena Macormac, said:

“It is vital that decisive and substantial collective international actions are taken as a matter of urgency – the future of our children and young people is at stake.

“The UK government has said that tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is its number one international priority, yet the lack of investment and sustained joined up policy on this area would lead us to believe that this is not the case. Climate change is already having detrimental effect to education working conditions in the UK, with decades of state neglect of school buildings and classrooms not fit for purpose in extreme weather events. We are also already seeing an increase in ‘climate refugees’ and displaced pupils impacting on school communities.

“It is vital that the pupil voice is heard within the climate crisis debate, and that they are able to access climate education – it is they that will pioneer the necessary solutions to the climate crisis. Governments must realise the integral role that pupils, school leaders and education providers play in tackling climate change, and work to deliver a ‘just transition’ for the future.”

NAHT International Committee Chair and primary head teacher in London, Dave Woods, said:

“After hosting the COP26 summit in the UK, the progress against the commitments by government has been woefully inadequate. Pupils in schools across the country remain very concerned about the climate crisis that is more evident with extremes of weather events across the world. Pupils in our schools are all future voters and they are relying on all politicians to take real and substantive actions immediately so that the UK can meet the climate goals it has signed up to.”

NAHT’s full submission to the COP28 TUC delegation is available here.

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