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Decoding Carbon. A Climate Policy Quest

Secondary

Description

This comprehensive resource uses guided inquiry to inform students about climate change and the crucial role of policy in addressing the serious threats it poses.

The resource is made up of 4 sections, each consisting of two or more lessons.  While designed to be completed in its entirety, teachers may opt to use individual lessons.

1.  What is climate change and how does it shape our World.  Students will

  • Examine climate change around the world from global, national and local perspectives
  • Learn about significant developments in climate science over time including addressing climate change denial
  • Identify both the current and predicted impacts of global warming

2.  Introduction to climate change policy.  In this challenging section students will

  • Explore the economic principles of supply and demand, negative and positive externalities and the threat of climate change to sustainable development
  • Discuss the role of governments in general and Canada’s specifically in climate change policy
  • Learn about the concepts of ‘the tragedy of the commons’, climate justice and collective action in combating climate change.

3.  Canada’s Climate Actions.  Students will

  • Investigate Canada’s carbon emissions over time & how they compare with other countries
  • Explore Canada’s current efforts to reduce emissions

4. Designing a Climate Policy. Students will

  • Examine the benefits and trade-offs of different climate policies & regulations
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of different climate policies using Green Learning’s rubric.
  • Develop their own climate policy
  • Consider climate change policy in the context of indigenous relations

Student learning in each activity is supported with links to background readings, slide presentations, simulations, games, data analysis tools, explanatory videos and animations.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Navigating large data sets
  • Interpreting and using data
  • Reading critically to separate facts from fiction
  • Systems thinking

Strengths

  • The resource is thorough and easy to use.
  • The activities are built on information that is current and Canadian-focused.
  •  The activities are well designed and engaging
  • The resource is comprehensive in its effort to inform and empower students regarding climate change.
  • The lesson plans for teachers are excellent.
  • The variety and quality of resources available to support student learning is impressive

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This comprehensive look at climate change will be of interest to secondary school teachers of science, social studies and geography.  It is especially well suited for use as an interdisciplinary study of climate change.

Topics addressed include climate change, climate science, policy, market demand and supply, government intervention, climate policy planning, stakeholder engagement, climate modeling, climate policy options (carbon tax, cap and trade, carbon pricing), sustainable development, climate justice, Canadian climate policy and Indigenous perspectives.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
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        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
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        • Microeconomics 30: Course Content
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
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        • Earth Science 11:The distribution of water has a major influence on weather and climate.
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Social Studies
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        • Political Studies: Decision making in a democratic system of government is influenced by the distribution of political and social power.
  • Manitoba
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        • Senior 2 Science: Weather Dynamics
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        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
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        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Resources, Energy, and Environment
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        • Global Issues
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    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
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        • Economics 120: Fundamental Economic Concepts
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        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
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        • World Issues 120: Geopolitics
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        • Social Studies 1201: Economic Decision Making
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        • Canadian Economics 2203:Economic Issues
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        • Environmental Science 3205: The Atmosphere and the Environment
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        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
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        • Citizenship 9: Engaged Citizenship
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        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Global Systems
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        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
        • Science (Applied)::Earth and Space Science: Earth's Dynamic Climate
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      • Economics
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        • The Individual and the Economy (Univ./College Prep.): Fundamentals of Economics
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        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
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        • Politics in Action: Making Change (Open) Policy, Politics, and Democratic Change
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        • Analysing Current Economic Issues (Univ. Prep.) Economic Inquiry and Skill Development
        • Making Personal Economic Choices (Workplace Prep.) Markets, Consumers, and Producers
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        • Global Connections
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Ecosystems and Human Activity
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Prfeparation)
        • World Geography: Urban Patterns & Populations (Univ./College Prep.) Systems: Interdependence of Ecumenes
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
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        • Interdependence: Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment in the Global Community
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        • Geography of Canada 421A: Canada’s Global Connections
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        • Introductory Economics 621A: Global Economic Concepts
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        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
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        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
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        • Policy Issues
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        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
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        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
  • Yukon Territory
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    • Grade 11
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
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      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Political Studies: Decision making in a democratic system of government is influenced by the distribution of political and social power.

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Governance (1)

    • Government Regulations
  • Human Rights (1)

    • Social Justice
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students are provided with current data and information based on generally accepted climate science. Efforts have been made to include climate policy from all provinces as well as the federal government.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The environmental, economic and social trade offs and benefits involved in developing and implementing climate policy are made clear.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

Several lessons are designed to illustrate for students the complex network of regulations and legislation that accompany policy implementation as well as the many competing interests any policy must balance.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Student action is not a component of this resource.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Reflection activities and opportunities are provided throughout.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

The lessons that focus on climate justice and indigenous perspectives will very likely foster empathy and respect for different groups and different points of view.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Section one effectively connects students to the environmental impacts of climate change.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The resource does a very good job in presenting the issues in a national and local as well as global context.  There is an emphasis placed on understanding Canada's situation and many opportunities are provided for students to reflect on local and personal responses.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good

In looking at global warming, climate impacts and climate actions, great effort is made to provide students with, or direct them to, case studies, timelines and longitudinal data that illustrate changes over time and best estimates for what lies ahead.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The resource focuses on building student understanding of climate change and climate policy.  To do this lessons direct them to accepted scientific information, current data and actual case studies. Students complete their own inquiries and form their own conclusions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The resource will address outcomes in science, geography and social studies.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Although the topics of investigation are largely provided, students use information and tools provided by the resource to collect and analyze information on their own.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

Student learning involves reading and responding, discussing and sharing information, viewing video and slide presentations, participating in games and simulations, conducting research and working both individually and in groups.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

In the culminating lesson, students take part in a 'real world' activity that simulates the challenges and complexities inherent in developing and implementing a climate policy of their own.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

There are group activities included but cooperative learning skills are not explicitly taught.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

The resource includes a detailed rubric with criteria but no specific assessment tools are provided.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Incidental teaching may take place in group activities.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

A strength of this resource is the quantity of current and relevant information students are provided with in case studies presented as readings and as videos.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Poor/Not considered

There are limited opportunities for students to choose elements of content.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.