Every person should have the competences to contribute to a CO2-neutral Switzerland.
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Some abbreviations are used in this chapter. You can find explanations of all abbreviations in the glossary.
There is a broad, fact-based debate on specific solutions to the climate crisis. The public discussions do not focus on scenarios of possible consequences of global warming, but on how we want to live in a carbon-neutral world. Schools, media, politicians and NGOs make sure that reliable information is spread in an appropriate frequency and provide platforms for debates and peer-learning. Thus, citizens have an overview about the problems we have to tackle and what solutions exist, which is the basis for a constructive democratic process. They also provide action-related knowledge and relevant competences to avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions voluntarily and therefore allow the legislator to focus on the complex problems.
Every person that goes through our education system is enabled to contribute to a CO2-neutral Switzerland as a citizen, as employee and as a part of the sovereign. There is a praxis-oriented climate education as a fixed part of all curricula and levels. These lessons focus on climate-relevant competences and climate education as a cross-sectional issue.
Public Knowledge and Behavior
The most important impulses for action are the knowledge about climate change causes, adequate and relevant competences and the right mindset. People must have the appropriate skills to actively and appropriately contribute to the societal task of reducing emissions. Lastly, they must have developed the right attitude and mindset to actually apply their knowledge and skills.
People must realize how climate change impacts their life, such as risks to people, places, traditions, or even values such as 'fairness' and 'justice' (Wang and Kim 2018), fellow human beings and the whole posterity. Additionally, they need to know how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 1.5° degrees and minimize the climate crisis.
This is currently not the case. Despite numerous good initiatives and many actors, most people in Switzerland lack the knowledge, the competences and the attitude to make it possible to avert a severe climate crisis. Our policies will change this with quite a number of approaches.
A short history of knowledge level: Between the 1990s and 2010 the factual knowledge about the climate crisis increased from a relatively minor level. In the following years (until the COP 21 in Paris) it stagnated. The action-related knowledge started on a higher standard, but does not follow such a clear trend.
In the 1990s big companies started to deny the existence of global warming despite better knowledge. At the end of the decade, they started to accept the scientific consensus themselves, but to support climate change deniers financially.
Current Means of Information
Currently, the government does not have major information campaigns for the broad public. The climate program of FOEN focuses on professional education. Until 2021 the climate program of FOEN is being revised and there are plans to expand the target group to the public. The CO2 talks that are offered in the French-speaking regions of Switzerland, in which the participants, under the supervision of a trained leader, look for an individual reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint while maintaining a high quality of life, are very successful. The courses are fully booked and are currently expanded to the German-speaking part.
Still the government euphemisms the role of Switzerland. For example, by talking about the inland emissions and ignoring the carbon footprint and the investments in fossil fuels.
The urgency in the practice of this topic is missing at all levels. Crisis awareness is lacking.
Behavioral research in the area of sustainability is not receiving enough attention. Education and research are strongly focused on the problem, but little on what the society needs to change to solve it, e.g. on climate relevant competences and behavior.
In recent years, curricula based on the ‘Lehrplan 21’ (Curriculum 21) have been developed for primary schools and secondary level I in the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. Education for sustainable development (Bildung für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, Education en vue d’un Développement Durable, educazione allo Sviluppo Sostenibile, short ESD) is an integral part of this ‘Lehrplan 21’. Beside other subjects, it also includes climate education. But it strongly depends on the teacher how intense the climate crisis is taught. Furthermore, ESD is not a subject itself. It is much more a multidisciplinary approach. On the one hand, this can be an advantage in understanding complex issues. On the other hand, there is also the danger of getting lost between other topics. The implementation is in the teachers’ responsibility, sometimes also several teachers, and many of them lack adequate training (Schweizerische Konferenz der kantonalen Erziehungsdirektoren 2020). The ‘Plan d'études romand’ is the counterpart in French-speaking cantons to ‘Lehrplan 21’, where ESD is also included.
The corresponding framework for secondary schools II is the so-called ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ (Plans d’études cadres, Programmi quadro d’insegnamento). Currently, the ‘Rahmenlehrplan’ for high schools is being revised and will be implemented in 2023.
There are big differences between media companies when it comes to articles about the climate crisis. The media attention for the climate crisis is on a high level since Paris. (Brüggemann et al. 2018; Forschungsinstitut Öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft 2017). But a more frequent reporting on climate change does not necessarily increase the public understanding of the topic. Brüggemann et al. (2018) criticizes that extreme weather scenarios are sometimes described as a direct consequence of global warming. Media tend to ignore uncertainties and to present scenarios as definite facts. Often the principle of balanced reporting leads to the result that high quality scientific information can be thwarted by nonqualified actors, mainly politicians (Michaels 2019).
Policy 11.1: Climate Change Education as Core Element of the Education System at all Levels
Policy 11.2: National Advanced Training Program on Climate Change Education for all Teachers
Policy 11.3: National Climate Action Week
Policy 11.4: Education on a Local Level
Policy 11.5: Government Information Campaign
Policy 11.6: Journalism Reflecting the Reality of Problems
Policy 11.7: Counsellor for Environmental Awareness
Policy 11.8: Environmental Training for all Employees and Apprentices
Policy 11.9: Carbon Conversations
- Energie Schweiz. 2020. “PEIK.” 2020. https://www.peik.ch/.
- Brüggemann, Michael, Irene Neverla, Imke Hoppe, and Stefanie Walter. 2018. “Klimawandel in Den Medien.” Hamburger Klimabericht – Wissen Über Klima, Klimawandel Und Auswirkungen in Hamburg Und Norddeutschland, 243–54. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-55379-4_12.
- Michaels, Johanna. 2019. “Sind Journalisten Unfair?,” August 16, 2019. https://www.faz.net/aktuell/wissen/erde-klima/der-klimawandel-in-den-medien-sind-journalisten-unfair-16332811.html.
- Tobler, Christina, Vivianne H M Visschers, and Michael Siegrist. 2012. “Consumers’ Knowledge about Climate Change.” Climatic Change 114 (2): 189–209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-011-0393-1.
- Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. 2020. “17 Ziele Für Nachhaltige Entwicklung.” 2020. https://www.eda.admin.ch/post2015/de/home/agenda-2030/die-17-ziele-fuer-eine-nachhaltige-entwicklung.html.
- Moser, Stephanie, Christoph Bader, Stephan Schmidt, Holenstein Matthias, Mack Verena, and Ester Osuna. 2018. Analyse von Freiwilligen Angeboten Und Initiativen Mit Bezug Zu Suffizientem Verhalten (Schlussbericht).
- Schweizerische Konferenz der kantonalen Erziehungsdirektoren. 2020. “Bildung Für Nachhaltige Entwicklung.” 2020. https://lu.lehrplan.ch/index.php?code=e%7C200%7C4.
- Wang, Shih-Yu, Lin Zhao, Jin-Ho Yoon, Philip Klotzbach, and Robert Gillies. 2018. “Attribution of Climate Effects on Hurricane Harvey’s Extreme Rainfall in Texas.” Environmental Research Letters 13 (April). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aabb85.
- Niebert, Kai. 2010. “Den Klimawandel Verstehen Eine Theoriegeleitete Und Evidenzbasierte Entwicklung von Interventionen,” July.
- Wang, Jaesun, and Seoyong Kim. 2018. “Analysis of the Impact of Values and Perception on Climate Change Skepticism and Its Implication for Public Policy.” Climate 6 (December): 99. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli6040099.