Climate Action

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Climate Change Literacy to Combat Climate Change and Its Impacts

  • Julie D. JohnstonEmail author
Living reference work entry




UNESCO (2004) defines literacy as “the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts […] enabling individuals to achieve their goals to develop their knowledge and potential and to participate fully in their community and wider society” (p. 13). Literacy can also be defined as competence or knowledge in a specific area.

Climate Change Literacy

If literacy can be defined as competence or knowledge in a specific area, then climate change literacy is competence or knowledge in the area of climate change, its impacts, and its solutions. The goals of climate change education entail:

that the learner has an understanding of the basic science of climate and climate change; that people and organizations can make informed decisions; and that our behavior changes to a degree that we are not causing the climate...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Abrahams I (2015) In pursuit of the unachievable: the fallacy of meaningful widespread scientific literacy. University of Nottingham. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  2. Alves F, Azeiteiro UM (2018) Climate change and e-learning: interdisciplinarity and interculturality challenges. In: Azeiteiro U, Leal Filho W, Aires L (eds) Climate literacy and innovations in climate change education: distance learning for sustainable development, Climate Change Management. Springer, Cham, pp 229–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007) Science and Society Map 9. Atlas of Science Literacy, vol 2, Project 2061Google Scholar
  4. Azevedo J, Marques M (2017) Climate literacy: a systematic review and model integration. Int J Glob Warm 12(3/4):1–17. Scholar
  5. Carter P (2018) Global climate change is an existential threat and global humanitarian climate emergency. Climate Emergency Institute. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  6. Climate Literacy (2016) Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  7. Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) (n.d.) Climate literacy quiz. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  8. Compass Education (2014) Handbook: systems thinking and climate change education games and activities: activity guidebook on systems thinking and climate change education for teachers and non-formal education activists. CompassEducation.orgGoogle Scholar
  9. DARA (2012) Climate vulnerability monitor, 2nd edn. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  10. Dupigny-Giroux L-A, Cole A (2018) Climate literacy and education. Oxford Bibliographies.
  11. Fake news threatens a climate literate world (Editorial) (2017) Nature Communications 8 (15460). Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  12. FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) (2018) The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2018. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  13. Hendricks R (2017) Communicating climate change: focus on the framing, not just the facts. The Conversation. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  14. Holdren JP (2007) Global climate disruption: what do we know? What should we do? Presentation at Harvard University (6 November 2007). Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  15. IPCC (2014) AR5 Climate change 2014, working group 2 Annex II: glossary. Accessed 17 Dec 2018
  16. IPCC (2018) Summary for policymakers. In: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Accessed 17 Dec 2018
  17. Jacobson MZ, Delucchi MA (2010) Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials. Energy Policy 39:1154–1169. Scholar
  18. Johnston J (2007) Ecologically inclusive scientific literacy: A transformative tool in sustainability education. GreenHeart Education. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  19. Johnston J (2010) Climate change primer for educators: An introduction to atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution. GreenHeart Education. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  20. Kahan D, Peters E, Wittlin M, Slovic P, Larrimore Ouellette L, Braman D, Mandel G (2012) The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks [Abstract]. Nat Clim Chang 2:732–735. Scholar
  21. Kauffman CM (2014) Earth’s climate as a dynamic system. In: Our changing climate: introduction to climate science. American Meteorological Society. © American Meteorological Society. Used with permission. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  22. Lee TM, Markowitz EM, Howe PD, Ko C-Y, Leiserowitz A (2015) Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nat Clim Chang 5:1014–1020. Scholar
  23. Marcinkowski T, Noh K, Erdogan M, Sagy G (2011) Glimpses of climate literacy: climate literacy as assessed partially by a limited set of items from four recent national assessments of environmental literacy. Paper prepared for the workshop on climate change education in formal settings, K-14. Climate Change Education Roundtable, Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  24. McSweeney R (2015) Global survey: where in the world is most and least aware of climate change? Carbon Brief (27 July 2015). Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  25. Miléř T, Sládek P (2011) The climate literacy challenge. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 12:150–156. Scholar
  26. Olofsgård J (2018) It’s all in your head: dissonance. We don’t have time. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  27. Open Development Cambodia (2018) SDG 13 Climate action. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  28. Otto D (2018) MOOCs – a powerful tool for imparting climate literacy? Insights from parleys with students. In: Azeiteiro U, Leal Filho W, Aires L (eds) Climate literacy and innovations in climate change education: distance learning for sustainable development, Climate Change Management. Springer, Cham, pp 131–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Palumbo M, Startari S, Domović V, Boillet D (n.d.) Education (formal, non-formal, informal). Young Adulllt [sic]. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  30. Ramanujan K (2011) Public distrusts climate science partly due to lack of media literacy, says researcher. Cornell Chronicle (21 March 2011). Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  31. Rebich S, Gautier C (2005) Concept mapping to reveal prior knowledge and conceptual change in a mock summit course on global climate change. J Geosci Educ 53(4):355–365. Accessed 30 Nov 2018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sharma R (2017) Experiential learning and climate change education: effect of predict-observe-explain strategy on pre-service teachers’ understanding of sea level rise. Dir J Educ Stud 13(1):93–112Google Scholar
  33. Siperstein S (2015) Developing climate change literacy with the humanities: a narrative approach. American Geophysical Union, Fall meeting 2015, abstract ID: ED11F-06. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  34. Suzuki D, Hanington I (2018) Ocean study criticism shows benefits of scientific method. David Suzuki Foundation. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  35. Tanhua T, Orr JC, Lorenzoni L, Hansson L (2015) Monitoring ocean carbon and ocean acidification. World Meteorol Organ Bull 64(1). Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  36. U.S. Global Change Research Program (2009a) Climate literacy: the essential principles of climate science: a guide for individuals and communities. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  37. U.S. Global Change Research Program (2009b) Energy literacy: essential principles and fundamental concepts for energy education. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  38. UN (2016) Sustainable development goal 13. Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  39. UNESCO (2004) The plurality of literacy and its implications for policies and programmes. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  40. UNESCO (2010) Climate change education for sustainable development. The UNESCO Climate Change Initiative Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  41. Union of Concerned Scientists (n.d.) Global warming impacts: the consequences of climate change are already here. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  42. Why “scientific consensus” fails to persuade (13 September 2010) National Science Foundation. Accessed 30 Nov 2018
  43. Yale study concludes public apathy over climate change unrelated to science literacy (27 May 2012) Accessed 30 Nov 2018

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Sustainability Education CoachGreenHeart EducationPender IslandCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anabela Marisa Azul
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Neuroscience and Cell BiologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal