On June 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a critical initiative: “Lifestyle for the Environment – LiFE Movement”, emphasizing people-oriented collective efforts and strong actions to boost sustainable development.
Sustainable development is crucial if we want to tackle the climate crisis. But unfortunately there is an alarming gap in knowledge about the climate crisis. A 2017 HT-MaRS Monitoring and Research Systems Youth Survey in India found that more than 74% of people (aged 18 and 25) did not know how greenhouse gases caused global warming. Equally worrisome, renewable energy was a mystery to 70.9% of respondents. This knowledge gap about the climate crisis makes climate education necessary for young people. An increasingly influential India needs to draw on years of research and numerous policy-driven initiatives, including an effort to revamp the national school curriculum to move it from mainstream learning to critical thinking, and create engaging and locally adapted climate courses.
Implementing climate education will require serious efforts from central and state governments, schools, non-governmental organizations, climate mitigation agencies, higher academia, scientific bodies, international organizations and the private sector to work together and create a curriculum for students.
As a representative of a leading Indian clean energy company, I believe that our efforts, the overall clean energy sector and the country’s fight against the climate crisis cannot succeed if the youth are not the key stakeholders in the fight. To this end, ReNew has created a unique online course that aims to create a new generation of climate advocates. Through such targeted courses, we can create climate ambassadors – young people who will lead India’s journey to net-zero and absorb the basic tenets of the LiFE movement that emphasizes “conscious and purposeful use” rather than “mindless and wasteful consumption.” “.
For example, the course goes deeply into sustainability, safeguards against the climate crisis and climate entrepreneurship and there is consultation with the government. We have made this course voluntary so that it complements the traditional curriculum and takes only one hour a week. It will also make students aware of government social security schemes linked to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
We will be rolling out climate curricula to 100 schools in 10 states this year, including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, in Hindi, Gujarati and English. This pilot will involve approximately 20,000 students.
From climate activist Greta Thunberg in Sweden to Hina Saifi and Sneha Shahi in India, the young people are raising awareness about the climate crisis and sustainable lifestyles. We owe it to youth and children to help channel their inspiring activism, wider climate questions and receptive minds on a structured path, driven by facts, experimentation and a hands-on approach to climate crisis mitigation, in an organized, engaging, locally relevant and time-bound manner. This climate crisis education can help climate and environmental sensitivities become a part of their real lives.
Vaishali Nigam Sinha is the Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power, and Chairman, ReNew Foundation. The opinions expressed are personal