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Advocates say proposed state budget misses climate education

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  • Staff Report 

In the upcoming 2024-2025 fiscal year, New York State’s proposed $246 billion budget has overlooked essential funding for P-12 climate education, leaving the state’s 2.5 million students without critical learning resources on climate change. Despite the state’s heavy $50 billion spending on climate disasters in 2023, the Climate & Resilience Education Task Force’s (CRETF) $20 million request for climate education funding has yet to be included, with the budget deadline looming on April 1.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Experts like Don Haas from the Paleontological Research Institution have emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive climate change education in schools. The proposed funding aims to support interdisciplinary climate education for all students, teacher training, and the development of green career paths, as outlined in legislation S278A/A1559A. This initiative reflects New York’s commitment to climate leadership, echoing the goals of the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Comparisons to other states, such as New Jersey, which has already implemented K-12 climate education standards and an Office of Climate Education, highlight New York’s lag in addressing climate education. Emily Fano of the National Wildlife Federation illustrated the disparity by comparing the $20 million needed for climate education to the cost of repaving 20 miles of road, underscoring the investment’s potential impact on preparing students for a climate-altered future and contributing to climate solutions. Advocates urge the Governor and legislature to allocate specific funds for climate education in the budget.