Young Canadians and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptive Capacity, Education, and Agency
MetadataShow full item record
Canada’s climate is warming at twice the global rate and its population is already experiencing several adverse effects of climate change. Canadian children and youth are among the most vulnerable to climatic changes due to physiological and developmental factors, yet their vulnerability, adaptation, and adaptive capacity are largely undocumented in the climate change literature. Several factors, including health, socioeconomic, and sociocultural factors, contribute to the vulnerability of Canadian children and youth to climate change. Although health factors of vulnerability and the health impacts of climate change on these groups have been documented in the published and grey literatures to a certain extent, information on the socioeconomic and sociocultural factors contributing to their vulnerability remains scarce. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada has binding obligations to reduce its carbon emissions, plan and implement adaptation measures for its citizens, including children and youth, and to provide the latter with a healthy environment in which to grow up. Although children and youth have contributed very little to anthropogenic climate change and are not decision-makers in policy processes, they are disproportionately affected by the climate inaction of previous generations because their lives will be increasingly impacted. Furthermore, young people worldwide, including marginalized children and youth (e.g., those who live in poverty and/or are Indigenous, racialized, immigrants, disabled, etc.) were largely excluded from consideration as a group in global climate change mitigation and adaptation decision-making processes until their groundswell of activist leadership, beginning in 2018. Despite, or perhaps in response to this marginalization, young people across Canada are taking a stand against climate inaction and playing leadership roles in climate action activism in this country. Their perceptions, experiences, and contributions, however, remain noticeably and regrettably scarce in the published climate change literature. This paper discusses implications for education, research, and policy.