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Carrie Karsgaard and Lynette Shultz

In 2019, youth throughout the world held global student strikes for climate, also known as Fridays for Future, during which they articulated their collective concern and frustration at political inaction on climate change, demanding climate justice. During the same period, through concrete activities on specific lands, drawing attention to the colonial nature of climate change, Indigenous land-based and climate movements have resisted extraction and development projects that fuel climate change. Youth responses to the increasing intensification and unevenness of climate heating present a crucial moment for rethinking education. To adequately respond to the global youth climate strikes and Indigenous movements, climate change education is recognizing the need to engage issues of justice, including for children and youth in different positions globally. Education research has long recognized the need to layer climate science education with learning about the intersecting sociocultural, political, and economic components of climate issues, along with the need to support youth as they face uncertain futures. At the same time, much historic climate change education was critiqued for its instrumentalism because it endorsed predetermined outcomes, limiting critical thought and stripping youth of their agency. By contrast, the recent youth climate strikes have spurred increased legitimation of youth voice and agency in climate issues, in addition to increasing attention to the marginalized and excluded. With the citizenship participation of youth thus legitimized, new efforts in climate change education more deeply address climate justice through a critical focus on the culpability of the Global North, supporting pedagogical interventions that support more critical learning. At the same time, many scholars question the extent to which climate change education fully addresses the deep colonial–capitalist roots of the climate crisis, particularly because education relies on these same colonial–capitalist foundations. Furthermore, despite increased interest in climate change education, many youth remain marginal to the conversation because research is still largely situated in the Global North, to the exclusion of many young people’s realities and reflecting the ongoing coloniality of knowledge production within education. Considering these issues, decolonial climate change education offers more direct confrontation with the failures of Western modes of thought and engages with alternative knowledges. In doing so, it opens space for climate change education grounded in relationality and kinship founded in Indigenous relational ontologies, whereby humans are not the center of climate learning and decision-making but are inherent within webs of relations among all things.