K12 Climate Action Releases Plan to Inspire Education Sector to Combat Climate Change

September 21, 2021

Governor Whitman, Secretary King, Commissioners gather at Net-Zero School in Arlington to Advocate for Climate Action in Schools

Contact: Nell Callahan

September 21, 2021, Washington, DC –  Today, K12 Climate Action, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, released the K12 Climate Action Plan. K12 Climate Action commissioners will tour net-zero school Alice West Fleet Elementary in Arlington, VA and ride on a Lion electric school bus. The action plan aims to unlock the power of the K-12 public education sector to be a force for climate action, solutions, and environmental justice to help prepare children and youth to advance a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society.

Co-chaired by John B. King Jr., president of The Education Trust and 10th U.S. Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama, and Christine Todd Whitman, president of the Whitman Strategy Group and former Governor of New Jersey and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, K12 Climate Action launched in September 2020 to mobilize the education sector in the fight against climate change. 

Secretary King and Governor Whitman will be joined at the school by K12 Climate Action commissioners Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers; Pedro Rivera, President of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology; Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools; Valerie Rockefeller Board Chair, Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Vic Barrett, Network Organizer, Power Shift; Kiera O’Brien, Founder, Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends; Nikki Pitre, Executive Director, Center for Native American Youth; Naina Agrawal-Hardin, Climate Activist; and Arlington school leaders Francisco Durán, Superintendent, Arlington Public Schools and Francis LeGagneur, Principal, Alice West Fleet Elementary School for a tour of the net-zero school and a discussion of the just-released K12 Climate Action plan. 

“We are witnessing the impacts of climate change every day from wildfires in the West to flooding in our backyards. We must all take action,” said King. “Our action plan aims to mobilize the education sector to address climate change. By supporting the education sector in advancing climate solutions, we can build lasting change to a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society.”

The action plan offers recommendations to ensure that our nearly 100,000 public schools, which operate 480,000 school buses, serve 7 billion school meals, and sit on over 2 million acres of land are models for climate solutions and support the over 50 million children and youth enrolled in schools today are prepared to address climate change in the future. 

“Students today are asking us all to take action on climate change,” said Whitman. “Policymakers at every level–federal, state, and local–have the opportunity to show students they are listening. They can help our schools become models of sustainability and empower students to succeed in the clean economy, live healthy lives, and develop agency to make a difference.”

K12 Climate Action consists of 22 commissioners and over 40 coalition members. The action plan released today outlines steps for the public K-12 education sector in moving toward climate action, solutions, and environmental justice. For more information and to view the full plan, visit k12climateaction.org and join the conversation by following K12 Climate Action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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