Go Vegan World Submission to NCCA Public Consultation on Leaving Cert Subject ‘Climate Action & Sustainable Development’

Go Vegan World recently made a submission as part of a public consultation by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on a new Leaving Certificate subject ‘Climate Action & Sustainable Development’.

There has been no concerted effort to address the educational deficit on climate breakdown in our schools and a standalone subject, albeit very belatedly introduced, could help recover some of the damage done previous neglect. Elements of environmental destruction and climate change may be covered in the subjects of Geography, Science or Chemistry. Indeed, given the harm caused to humans by climate change, and the role of human behaviour in environmental destruction and GHG emissions, it is a fitting theme for subjects such as Politics and Society, and could also usefully be integrated into Economics, Agricultural Economics and Home Economics.

One would think it would be a central tenet of Agricultural Science, given the impact of climate change on agricultural systems now and into the future, and more importantly, given that animal agriculture is one of the most significant drivers of environmental degradation and climate change. However, the syllabus does not make that connection at all.

This new subject, Climate Action & Sustainable Development, has great potential, but it must be provided with a grounding in evidence and fact, despite the private interests that may be affected. The impacts of climate breakdown on all aspects of our lives means it should be central to all areas of our educational system.

That means that actions on climate that can have a material impact on emissions reductions must be brought to students’ attention. Our track record in Ireland on recognising the impact of animal agriculture on our emissions, water quality, land consumption and biodiversity loss, is downplayed at almost every juncture. As covered in our submission, a recent EPA survey showed that while 85% of people in Ireland are worried about climate change, only 61% know that climate change is mostly caused by human activities, and only 33% know that Ireland’s agriculture sector is the largest source of the pollution that causes climate change.

Indeed, there was political pushback[i][ii][iii] [iv][v][vi] when Go Vegan World recognised animal agriculture as the biggest GHG emitter in Ireland as part of recent campaigns. The role of the education system is to impart accurate knowledge and empower students to learn, research, and develop critical thinking skills. Any fair education system will not be curtailed by those inconvenienced by the truth.

Notwithstanding the very strong environmental case for systemic change in agriculture, the recognition of farmed animals as deserving of respect is all that should be needed for this transition to happen.

Unfortunately, the submission portal that the NCCA used required any submissions to be broken up and submitted in sections and an arbitrary word count was used. The full GVW submission is available to be read Go Vegan World Submission on Climate Action Plan 2024.

[i] https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2023-01-24/5/

[ii] https://goveganworld.com/vegan-ads-on-dublin-bus-encouraging-consumers-to-go-vegan-are-an-attack-on-farmers-irish-farmers-journal/

[iii] https://www.anglocelt.ie/2023/02/23/vegan-ad-campaign-a-big-missed-steak/

[iv] https://www.newstalk.com/news/dublin-bus-should-not-allow-extreme-vegan-ads-cork-td-michael-collins-1431149

[v] https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/dublin-bus-thrashing-irish-agriculture-with-veganism-posters/

[vi] https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/west-cork-td-calls-vegan-26053478