Newsblog: Testimony sent by EEAC to the Joint Hearing of the NYS Senate and Assembly Education Committees, to the Joint Hearing of the Environmental Conservation Committees and to Governor Hochul on The Climate Change Education Legislation currently pending in the State Legislature


I am writing to encourage you to support New York Senate Bill 278A/ Assembly Bill A1559A which will “Establish a course of instruction and learning expectations on climate education in all pre-kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools and which shall include various principles and concepts including environmental justice.” The Bill calls for such courses of instruction to be consistent with the New York State Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan.

The Final Scoping Plan for the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) states that a “P-12 climate change education curriculum as well as a coordinated effort on outreach and education across all sectors of the economy” are priority actions required to meet the state’s decarbonization goals.

The Bill states that climate education will be included in all subject areas. It establishes “expectations for pre-service teacher education programs for the teaching of climate change for all teacher certification programs in New York State.” Following from this the legislation requires the commissioner of education to designate a number of professional development hours in climate education for all in-service teachers.

The legislation will establish an office of climate education and workforce development which will oversee and ensure that all aspects of the climate education programs are implemented.

The specific features of S278A/ A1559A will play an important role in actualizing the environmental rights amendment to the the New York State Constitution which states that “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water and a healthful environment.” An educated citizenry, youth and adults, is essential for this amendment to be effective.

S278A/A1559A will bring to fruition over 40 years of effort by the environmental and sustainability education community to ensure that children receive an appropriate background in the environment.

In the early 1980’s a statewide consortium of organizations worked cooperatively with the State Education Department (SED) and the Board of Regents to implement Goal 7 of the 1984 Regents Action Plan which states, “Each student will acquire knowledge of the ecological consequences of choices in the use of the environment and natural resources.”

The coalition helped infuse the SED syllabus and curriculum with environmental concepts in most subject areas. The SED also included environmental questions on Regents examinations. After the coalition’s formal work ended New York State Standards in Math, Science and Technology, Social Studies and other areas were eventually infused with concepts that related to a healthy environment and a sustainable society. (1)

Participants in the statewide coalition concluded that the infusion led to a modest increase in the teaching of environmental subject matter in schools throughout the state, especially in science subjects at the secondary school level. It was clear however, that most teachers were not prepared to teach about the environment or could not teach it in an effective manner. (2) Unfortunately schools of education across the state, with a modest number of exceptions, did not and still do not incorporate climate/environmental content into their general teacher preparation programs. 

As human induced climate change became identified and verified by the scientific community, and as the urgency of addressing climate change has become more apparent with each passing year, it has become clear that climate education, which integrates many of the disciplines inherent in environmental and sustainability education, become the focus of that education in the state.

There is overwhelming public support for a comprehensive climate education program in the state. The results of research done by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication indicated that 84% of adults in NY believe that schools should teach about the causes and potential solutions to global warming. (3)

The proposed legislation will ensure that climate education becomes a reality by generating effective pre-service and in-service teacher training and by developing and implementing a comprehensive program of curriculum and instruction. Thank you.


Michael Zamm 
Environmental Education Projects Forum of the
Environmental Education Advisory Council (EEAC)

EEAC, founded in 1974, is the only citywide environmental education network representing New York City. EEAC cultivates an inclusive community committed to increasing its capacity to understand and address NYC’s environmental and related societal challenges.

  1. Teacher Preparation and Environmental Education: Meeting the Challenge in New York State; Zamm, Michael, Council on the Environment of New York City, October 2005.
  2. The Environmental Education Projects Forum, Zamm, Michael, EEAC, Pathways (New York State Outdoor Education Newsletter), Spring 2023, pp. 8-9.
  3. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, New York, Public Opinion on Climate Change, 2021.

cc: Senator Robert Jackson
Assemblyman Al Taylor