Here’s a startling statistic: around the world, 84% of young people aged 16–25 are at least moderately worried about climate change, according to a 2021 study published in The Lancet. Three in four young people (75%), the study found, think the future is frightening.
I’m a mom of two young children, and I’m deeply concerned about how climate change will impact their physical, mental, and emotional well-being as they grow older. One of the key findings of the Lancet research was that young people feel betrayed by government inaction on climate change. This makes sense: young people under the age of 18 can’t vote, but they’ll have to live with the consequences of the climate actions that today’s governments take—or don’t take. We’ve seen some progress on climate action in the US over the past few years, but not enough.
Young people have a right to feel betrayed by inadequate climate action—and they have a right to have their voices represented in the climate policies that will affect them the most.
Schools for Climate Action’s mission is to empower schools to speak up about climate change and to make sure youth voices are represented in climate policy. This past week, I had the honor of joining them in Washington, DC to advocate for two student-written House Resolutions: one on climate education, and the other on climate change and youth mental health.
- House Resolution 259, “Promoting youth mental health and well-being in a changing climate,” was written by high school students. It calls for the expansion of funding for climate education, resilience, and adaptation projects that benefit the mental health and well-being of youth, like providing direct funding to school districts that need immediate resources to help children and families cope with the mental health effects of continued climate-related disasters.
- House Resolution 262, “Supporting the teaching of climate change in schools,” calls for age-appropriate, place-based, solutions-focused climate education in grades K-12. It includes the voices of over 200 students from over 20 states.
While resolutions don’t carry the weight of law, they are a powerful way to raise awareness about critical issues and help lay the foundation for future legislation. Throughout the week, I heard stories from students about how climate change is impacting their mental health. Students spoke about the terror of repeated wildfire evacuations, of having their homes flooded by hurricanes, of worrying when the next climate disaster would strike.
And I also heard stories about why climate education matters to young people: students want to learn accurate information about what’s going on in the world, and they want to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to participate in generating climate solutions.
As parents, we can’t stop extreme weather from coming, but we can ask Congress to take meaningful action to make sure young people have access to the support they need to thrive in a changing climate, from climate education to mental health resources. And we can offer intergenerational support by amplifying youth voices in climate policy whenever possible.
I hope you’ll join me in amplifying the important work of Schools for Climate Action by taking action today.
TELL CONGRESS: SUPPORT YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH AND ACCESS TO CLIMATE EDUCATION