Keywords: Education, Climate Change, Investment, Human Capital, Climate Adaptation, LMICs, Carbon Emission, Heat Exposure
Investment is the engine of development. By putting in capital now, a nation propels its future growth. Among investment options, few yield higher returns than those in human capital and education. However, just like physical capital, human capital investment can be significantly affected by climate change. This article aims to explore the essential role of investment in climate adaptation within the education sector.
Investment in Human Capital and Education
The high returns of human capital and education investments are unrivaled. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the long-term returns on human capital investments can be over ten times that of physical capital investments (Collin Weil, 2018). Further, discrepancies in school education and learning can account for a fifth to a half of the income differences across countries (Angrist et al., 2019).
The Climate Change Impact
Like all economic sectors, the education sector must grapple with the realities of global warming and increasingly unstable weather conditions. However, the most effective way for the education sector to adapt to these climate changes remains an open question.
Addressing climate change requires both mitigating carbon emissions and adapting to climate change consequences. While every economic sector needs to reduce carbon emissions significantly, the education sector currently contributes less to global emissions.
Role of the Education Sector in Climate Adaptation
Statistical data show that in high-income countries, the education sector contributes to around 2-3% of national emissions, primarily from purchased electricity. This is significantly less compared to the industrial and agricultural sectors in countries like the U.S., contributing 24% and 11% of greenhouse gas emissions, respectively.
In contrast, the education sector could play a pivotal role in climate adaptation. A growing body of scholarly literature documents the negative impact of climate change, especially heat exposure, on students. This is critical given predictions of most parts of the world facing higher temperatures due to global warming.
Investments in education are investments in our future. However, as we navigate a changing climate, how we adapt our educational infrastructure and practices is of paramount importance. Balancing the reduction of emissions with the adaptation to the consequences of climate change is the tightrope we must walk.
We welcome your thoughts, comments, and questions on this significant and complex issue. Let’s discuss and contribute to our shared understanding of finance, education, and climate change adaptation.