The sustainability practices educators implement in services give children the opportunity to learn how they’re making a difference towards a sustainable future. HESTA is committed to driving change, stating in their recent ‘Our path to net zero, ‘Climate change is one of the most significant threats to our economy, society and environment and it is likely to have implications for current and future generations if left unaddressed.’ We caught up with the HESTA team and asked how their climate transition plan will benefit children’s futures, how educators can build this into their everyday practices, and how climate change will affect rural and remote communities and our First Nation’s people.
ECA: How is it going to benefit the future of children?
HESTA: Our Climate Change Transition Plan maps out how we align our actions and investment portfolio with the goals of the Paris Agreement as we target Net Zero emissions by 2050.
Achieving net zero is necessary to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. All over the world we can see the increasing impacts of climate change, including more frequent bushfires, flooding, rising sea temperatures and more endangered species.
Taking action to reduce emissions and transition our portfolio and the whole economy to a low carbon future is necessary to protect future generations and for us to deliver strong financial returns for our members. HESTA acts through increasing investment in renewables and other technology needed in a low carbon world and by using our influence to urge high emitting companies to transition their business models.
ECA: How or why is this important for children to learn about
HESTA: The UN states that education is a critical agent in addressing climate change. By educating children now, we can promote a future of sustainable choices and livelihoods, careers in innovation with action that leads to positive environmental and societal changes.
A recent study determined that if only 16 percent of high school students in developed nations were to receive climate education, emissions could reduce by 18.8 gigatonne of CO2 by 2050. The study also discusses that these students go on to make long term positive personal choices related to waste minimisation, the cars they drive and sustainable food choices, as well as often using their employment to create environmental benefits.
ECA: How can educators build this into part of their everyday practice? And also make information about climate change accessible to children and families?
HESTA: With the growing momentum driven by today’s school aged youth seeking government action on climate change, there is a lot of information available to educators.
For young children, education based is practical experience through recycling and waste reduction programs or vegetable gardens is likely to be most impactful.
There are a range of resources available online aimed at educating the community about climate change. Educators can use these resources to arm children with knowledge, empowering them to make their own choices to create change.
This, in turn, can help motivate children to talk with their families about changing habits at home. While it may seem overwhelming on where to begin, making basic changes in household recycling and waste, turning off the heating, buying seasonal food and taking fewer trips in the car is a great place to start.
ECA: Given the state of climate change within Australia, do you feel this is particularly relevant to rural and remote communities and our First Nation’s People?
HESTA: The greatest impacts of climate change are often felt by regional communities, which are already affected by bushfires, droughts and flooding—as climate change magnifies the social and economic problems these disasters create. Education can help communities prepare and plan for disaster recovery and build resilience within communities to support affected people.
Remote Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change and many have already implemented adaptation strategies to help manage the impacts of climate change. With guidance from community Elders, nurturing a child’s connection to Country can promote the creation of longer term solutions that contribute to mitigating the environmental and social impacts from climate change that arise in remote communities.
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