High School Training

This two-part training focuses on teaching high-school students in Czechia about climate change and
its impacts, climate law, and legal ways young people can protect climate and the environment.
In the first event of the training the students have learned the basics about climate change causes and impacts, and discussed how the topic of climate change is reflected politically. Afterwards, they learned the basics of climate law. In the end of the first session, the students were given roles and instructions for a moot court. In the second session a moot court was performed, teaching students about climate law in an experimental form. The students were provided with additional resources about specific legal instruments which may be used for climate protection and about possibilities of civic engagement.

As part of the trainings for the high school students we focused on introduction of basic legal tools for climate protection to students and empowering them to take a more active role and participate in environmental protection and local communities. It took place as a series of 16 workshops, with most workshops being one-time single workshops and three workshops having two 3-hour parts, separated by 1-3 weeks. Each workshop was performed for a high school class of students aged 15-18.

Methodology

First, we have developed the learning goals for the workshops, planned their structure, and developed methodological guidelines for the lecturing. This was done by a team of experienced educators; we were also consulting the content with the lawyers who were speakers in another training we have carried out as part of the AGIT project. The methodical guideline and presentation used during the workshop is available (in Czech language) on the https://klimaradi.klimazaloba.cz/ or in the documents section of AGIT website.

The full workshop, as developed in the methodological guidelines, has a total of 6 hours split into two parts. The first part consists of an introduction (roughly the first two hours), where attitudes towards climate change, the political and legal dimension are discussed. Then, the class (after prior agreement between the lecturers and the teacher) is given the choice whether in the second part they want to focus on some practical application of one of the various legal instruments to a topic relevant in their community (a real-life civic activity) or whether they want to play a simulated court case (the civil case concerns the health effects of air pollution from a coal-fired power plant). The second part then follows the decision of the class, and also at the end contains final reflections on both the practical part itself (civic activity/simulated court) and the whole programme.

The learning goals of the workshops were the following:

• Participants understand law as a tool to achieve the public interest in climate protection (law is not only restrictive, but also serves to protect our rights).

• Participants know the main principles of environmental law and the basic legal framework for climate protection at Czech, European and international level.

• Participants are aware that the climate crisis is a matter of debate about the shape and functioning of society. They will give examples from practice or arguments that demonstrate this.

• Participants will list at least three legal tools that citizens can use to get public or private actors to act in the interests of climate protection.

• Participants consider it important to defend the rights of themselves and other people or other beings who are or will be threatened by climate change. They are willing to take action to do so within their means.

• Participants can summarize how to promote climate protection using at least one of the legal instruments (at local level). They can discuss and justify their proposal with others (for the citizen action option).

• Participants will name the feelings that are triggered by the injustices associated with the climate crisis or the current legal set-up (for the simulated court option).

We have trained a total of 10 speakers (5 female, 5 male) to perform the workshops following the methodological guidelines. The speakers then lectured in assigned pairs, with one speaker of each pair having experience with legal tools (a lawyer or a law school student). We have chosen the speakers to have a mix of experienced and less-experienced educators, to enable the speakers with less experience to gain lecturing experience on the task.

Overall feedback and conclusions

In practice, most schools were not willing to allow us to organize the full two-part workshop due to time constraints. Therefore, for most schools, we have performed only a single 3-hour workshop, without performing the second part with the practical activity or the simulated court case. Although less engaging, this approach still managed to achieve the learning goals of the activity.

Regarding learning outcomes, we have based our workshops on the assumption that the students would already know the basics about climate change, such as its causes and effects (which should be the case according to high school curricula). However, in practice we have discovered that many students lack these basics, i.e. do not know

the causes and effects of climate change, and therefore they lack the knowledge and motivation to take climate action. Teaching these students about legal tools and empowering them to take an active role in their local community was still useful, however they were mostly motivated to take action regarding local environmental issues (not related to climate change) or other local issues. Therefore, for future lecturing of high school students, we would recommend to focus more on climate change basics and motivation for climate protection, to improve this aspect of their knowledge – the legal tools for climate protection would then be a good advanced topic to follow up.

We asked the participants to fill the EU survey at the end of each workshop. Out of 314 total participants, 87 have filled in the survey, with majority marking their overall assessment of the workshop as 4/5 (47 participants), followed by 5/5 and 3/5. For increased awareness, knowledge and skills, the results were more mixed, but the

majority still responded 4/5 in these areas. Similar results were achieved regarding other questions in the survey.

Therefore, even though we have encountered the hurdles regarding time constraints and student knowledge about climate change as described above, based on both participant feedback and speaker feedback we consider this learning activity a success, having increased awareness about climate change and legal tools used to protect it in the participants, and empowered them to take a more active role in their local community.

A more detailed description of each workshop undertaken:

Workshop 03.10. + 10.10.2023 (Gymnázium Brno, Křenová)

This two-part workshop addressed critical aspects of climate change and its impact. We had opened with an introduction to the ongoing climate change crisis, emphasizing its significance for society. Trainers facilitated discussions and interactive activities to explore the political dimensions of climate change, underscoring the importance of independent judiciary systems and access to stakeholders to ensure effective climate change litigation.

Subsequently, trainers had explained various legal tools and actions that they could take to mitigate climate change, engaging deeply with legal concepts such as personal rights and the public’s right to a clean environment. They explored how citizens can force authorities to enact and enforce more climate-friendly policies, aligning with the workshop’s objectives to stimulate reflection and promote active civic participation.

Second phase of this activity was devoted to the practical component; it allowed students to role-play in a simulated court case which provided hands-on experience with one of the legal instruments discussed (lawsuit). This direct application facilitated an understanding of the systemic changes needed to address climate issues effectively, fostering a sense of empowerment and responsibility among the students.

Workshop 16.03.2024 (Klubovna Sedmička)

This training course was done in the setting of public municipal library lecture room. We have published an invitation to the workshop on social media, however in the end only one high school student attended.

In the first, the student had learned the basics about climate change causes and impacts, and discussed how the topic of climate change is reflected politically. Afterwards, they learned the basics of climate law and discovered specific legal instruments which may be used for climate protection. After that we had them thinking about the actions public authorities should perform to slow down climate change. In the middle of the session student had chosen two of three tools (request for information, demonstration) and had been provided with instructions on how to write one and how to properly call in a demonstration. As the setting was quite intimate we had plenty of time and space to spatially demonstrate participants as well as trainers attitudes toward ongoing climate change and basic legal concepts relating to climate change. At the end of the session, the student had space for feedback and reflected on what they had learned.

Workshop 12.04.2024 (Naše Lyceum)

At the beginning of the session, trainers explained climate change and its implications for humans. They used interactive methods such as a video presentation followed by a discussion to highlight how climate change is a critical political and legal issue. They had also among other things distributed atlas on climate change. Students participated in group discussions and brainstorming sessions to identify various human activities that contribute to climate change, emphasizing both individual and collective actions. This was followed by a segment explaining actions that public authorities could take to mitigate climate change, providing students with a practical perspective on governmental responsibilities.

The course also included an explanation of basic legal concepts with particular emphasis on international law. This was complemented by a description of what legal tools citizens might use against public authorities The course concluded with a reflection and evaluation phase, where students shared their experiences and thoughts. Special emphasis was placed on promoting awareness, encouraging legal and civic participation.

Workshop 22.04. + 16.05.2024 (Gymnázium Hranice, Class 2B)

This workshop, split into two sessions, focused on crucial elements of climate change and its effects. It began with an overview of the current climate crisis, highlighting its importance to society. The trainers led discussions and hands-on activities that delved into the political aspects of climate change, stressing the need for independent judicial systems and engagement with stakeholders to support successful climate change litigation. Following this, the trainers outlined several legal strategies and measures available to combat climate change, thoroughly discussing legal principles like individual rights and the public’s entitlement to a clean environment. They examined ways in which citizens can compel authorities to implement and uphold more environmentally friendly policies, aligning with the workshop’s goals to provoke thoughtful consideration and encourage active involvement from the community.

At the end of first phase trainers had offered students two options. Either to do a mock trial next week or focus on social and legal activities to put pressure on public authorities. As students had chosen moot court trainers had explained the moot court simulation and had given students the chance to choose different roles (defendant, doctor, CEO of power plant etc.) and given them materials to read and prepare for their role next week. Second phase of this activity was devoted to the practical component; allowed students to role-play in a simulated court case which provided hands-on experience with the one of the legal instruments discussed (lawsuit). This direct application facilitated an understanding of the systemic changes needed to address climate issues effectively, fostering a sense of empowerment and responsibility among the students.

Workshop 22.04. + 16.05.2024 (Gymnázium Hranice, Class 3A)

This workshop was divided into two parts and focused on key aspects of climate change and its impacts. It started with a brief on the ongoing climate crisis, pointing out why it matters to society. The trainers led discussions and practical activities looking into the political side of climate change, emphasizing the need for independent courts and working with stakeholders to win climate change cases. Next, the trainers presented various legal tactics and actions to fight climate change, going deep into legal ideas like personal rights and the public’s right to a clean environment. They discussed how people can push officials to adopt and maintain greener policies, meeting the workshop’s aims to inspire thinking and get people actively involved.

At the end of the first part, the trainers gave students two choices: either to have a mock trial the next week or to engage in social and legal efforts to pressure government bodies. The students opted for the mock trial, and the trainers explained the moot court setup, allowing students to pick roles like defendant, doctor, or power plant CEO. They also handed out materials to help students prepare for their roles. The second part was all about action; it let students act out a court case, giving them a real feel for one of the legal tools discussed—a lawsuit. This practical experience helped them grasp the systemic changes needed to effectively tackle climate issues, encouraging a feeling of empowerment and responsibility.

Workshop 23.04.2024 (Gymnázium Hranice)

The course began with a description of ongoing climate change and its significance for life on planet earth, where trainers used video and interactive discussions to illustrate the impacts on ecosystems and communities. Students explored activities influencing climate change. They were engaged in group work to identify everyday actions that contribute to climate change. In order to address the mechanism of lack of public authority actions regarding climate change they watched a video about climate change that was parable to Animal Farm. Students were encouraged to discuss how inaction of public figures is affecting the climate. And had led discussion on governmental policies and their effectiveness in mitigating climate change. This included a focus on international agreements and national legislation with a presentation on international climate agreements. During this we introduced basic legal concepts such as the right to clean the environment, claims, distribution of power. Trainers explained these concepts through real-world scenarios, helping students understand their legal rights and responsibilities. Students learned about the claims they could make against public authorities that neglect climate issues. And were encouraged to ask more questions regarding concrete legal actions against negligent authorities.

Finally, the course emphasised social and legal activities that young people can undertake to pressure public authorities. This included a brief excursion on organising public demonstrations and writing petitions. At the end students had time to reflect on the activity in pairs.

Workshop 23.04.2024 (Střední umělecká škola textilních řemesel)

During this workshop with very young 15–16-year-old high school students we engaged youth on the pressing issue of climate change and its legal and social dimensions. Key activities:

The first part of the workshop established the ongoing climate change, highlighting its significant impact on humanity. After that students had explored activities that contribute to climate change. This segment included discussions on some daily habits, industrial activities, and political policies that cause climate issues. We had outlined what actions public authorities can take to mitigate climate change. After that a part of the training involved explaining basic legal concepts like personal rights, right to clean living environment. This foundation helped students understand how legal tools can be employed to advocate for climate justice and a clean environment. Afterwards, they learned the basics of climate law and discovered specific legal instruments which may be used for climate protection. For that students had chosen one of three tools (request for information) and had been provided with instructions on how to write one. Students tried to write request for information with the help of a lecturer. During this we had encouraged students to think about various social and legal actions they could undertake to pressure authorities into taking action. These discussions were aimed at empowering students to feel capable of initiating change within their communities through organized efforts like petitions, public gatherings, and more. At the end of the session, the students had space for feedback and reflected on what they had learned.

Workshop 16.05.2024 (Gymnázium Na Zatlance)

In the training session for high school students, the main activity was a moot court simulation focused on environmental law. This simulation involved a fictional lawsuit where a retiree sued a coal power plant for causing health issues due to air pollution. The students played different roles in this mock trial, including lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, providing a practical context for students to explore environmental law and simulate hands-on approach to explaining the impact of and activities contributing to ongoing climate change.

A week before mock trial, the classroom teacher had devoted one hour to explain the upcoming moot court simulation and had assigned different roles to students (defendant, doctor, CEO of power plant etc.) and given them materials to read and prepare for their role. Before the mock trial, the students learned about legal terms and concepts through a short talk. Particular focus was given to protests and petitions. This preparation helped them understand and participate more effectively in both ordinary civil life and upcoming moot court. During the simulation, they used what they had learned to argue their cases, defend their positions, and respond to challenges, just like in a real courtroom.

The exercise was designed to show how the legal system can address environmental issues. It highlighted the importance of having independent courts that can enforce environmental laws. By participating in this activity, students saw how legal tools could be used to push for action on environmental problems and learned about their potential roles in influencing public policies and corporate responsibilities regarding the environment. This activity helped them see the link between law, civic participation, and advocating for the environment.

Workshop 17.05.2024 (Gymnázium Jana Keplera)

In a training session for high school students, a moot court simulation was the main activity. It was a fictional case where a retiree sued a nearby coal power plant for causing health issues due to air pollution. The students took on various roles, such as lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, to understand environmental law better.

A week before mock trial classroom teacher had devoted one hour to explain the upcoming moot court simulation and had assigned different roles to students (defendant, doctor, CEO of power plant etc.) and given them materials to read and prepare for their role. Before the beginning of mock trial, the students learned about

legal concepts. They talked about how air pollution affects health and what responsibilities companies have towards the environment. This helped them get ready for the moot court. A particular importance was given to a mechanisms of climate change and its impacts. During this trainer shad also mentioned actions that could be undertaken by the public authority mitigate climate change and explained what other actions (petition, protest. etc) could be undertaken by the students in order to put pressure on the public authority.

In the simulation, students practiced making arguments and using legal terms like “claims” and “damages.” They acted out a real court scene, where they learned how courts work and how they can influence public policy and company actions regarding the environment. This hands-on activity showed the students how law, community involvement, and environmental protection intersect. It highlighted the importance of having an independent judiciary that can hold companies accountable for environmental harm, teaching the students about their potential to impact environmental policy.

Workshop 17.05.2024 (Gymnázium Na Zatlance)

In this training session for high school students, the main activity was a moot court simulation focused on environmental law. This simulation involved a fictional lawsuit where a retiree sued a coal power plant for causing health issues due to air pollution. The students played different roles in this mock trial, including lawyers, plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, providing a practical context for students to explore environmental law and simulate hands on approach to explaining the impact of and activities contributing to ongoing climate change.

A week before mock trial classroom teacher had devoted one hourt to explain the upcoming moot court simulation and had assigned different roles to students (defendant, doctor, CEO of power plant etc.) and given them materials to read and prepare for their role. During the communication with trainers a plea regarding student well-being was communicated. There was anxiety about the impact of such activity on the psyche of the students (climate doomerism). The trainers had reassured the teacher that they will strive to leave a good mark on the students.

Before the mock trial, the students learned about legal terms and concepts through a short talk. During the simulation, they used what they had learned to argue their cases, defend their positions, and respond to challenges, just like in a real courtroom. The exercise was designed to show how the legal system can address environmental issues. It highlighted the importance of having independent courts that can enforce environmental laws. By participating in this activity, students saw how legal tools could be used to push for action on environmental problems and learned about their potential roles in influencing public policies and corporate responsibilities regarding the environment. This activity helped them see the link between law, civic participation, and advocating for the environment. At the end of this activity trainers had focused more on the reflexion of the activity due to the expressed concern of the teacher. The feedback from students was very positive. They were particularly appreciating that they could see how court would work and felt less stressed about going to a real court hearing afterwards. What more they were feeling empowered by the activity.

Workshop 21.05.2024 (Gymnázium PORG)

During this workshop for high school students there were two different classrooms of students combined in a lecture hall. We had focused on climate change and how young people can use legal and social actions to make a difference. It began by explaining the ongoing climate crisis and its big impact on people and society. The presentation had particularly emphasized the mechanism of climate change, what is causing it and its impact. The discussion also looked at how important it is to have an active civil society illustrated by graphs in presentation.

The activity taught students about different legal ideas, the right to an open speech, civil rights and everyone’s right to a clean environment as well as the right to assembly. It showed how the government can help and in some cases is already striving to slow down climate change. Students learned about legal tools they can use to push the government to adopt environmentally friendly policies (request of information, notice of assembly, petition, lawsuit). A big part of the course was applying these ideas. Students worked together in two separate teams. They were either working on submitting notices of assembly for municipalities. Second team had worked on a request for information as a legal procedure. After that the two teams had to present each other on what they were working on and explain to the other groups how to do it. So that they could later on work together to create plans for community events that would help the environment. This hands-on activity helped them understand how to use legal methods in real situations and under what circumstances they might want to act against public authority that is failing them. This way we were encouraging them to take steps and use their rights to promote environmental action. The trainers helped the students figure out what actions they could take and what legal steps they could use against those who ignore climate change. This way, the workshop prepared a group of young people ready to be active.

Workshop 22.05.2024 (Gymnázium Přírodní škola)

During this training course students had explored the issue of climate change through a legal lens. A highlight of the course was a moot court activity, engaging students in simulated legal proceeding. This activity allowed students to explore roles within a courtroom, debating a prepared fictitious case related to air pollution caused by a coal-fired power plant, emphasizing the real-life impacts of such pollution on health. The moot court served as a practical application of theoretical knowledge about environmental law and the rights to a clean environment and health. Students prepared arguments and experienced the structure and flow of courtroom proceedings, which enhanced their understanding of legal processes and the role of litigation in advocating for environmental protection.

At the beginning of the activity trainers introduced basics of climate change and its impacts. Later on, trainers covered the ongoing significance of climate change, activities influencing climate change on various scales, potential governmental actions to mitigate it, and basic legal concepts essential for public advocacy. This comprehensive approach aimed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to use legal tools to pressure governments for stronger climate action, reflecting on their roles as active citizens in democratic life.

Workshop 23.05.2024 (Gymnázium Jana Pivečky Slavičín)

This training course took place in Slavičín city which is somewhat on the periphery and was accessible only by car which caused a lot of discomfort which was redeemed by the wonderful active participation of the students.

Trainers began by discussing the ongoing significance of climate change and its human impacts through interactive presentations and group discussions. Students explored activities that influence climate change, analysing local and but mainly global examples. The trainers then introduced basic legal concepts such as personal rights, claims, damages, and the right to live in a clean environment. Part of the session focused on explaining the actions public authorities are ought to undertake to mitigate climate change. Students were divided into groups to read about, find and discuss various legal tools they could possibly use to influence public authorities. After some time, trainers brought all the students together and explained in more detail how and which tools could be used. They also had watched a video about climate change as a political topic. Then they worked together on exploring cases in which public might have claims against public authorities’ that are neglecting climate change. This was done in groups. Students worked in groups to draft proposals and action plans using the legal tools introduced earlier.

The course concluded with reflection where students shared their learning experiences and discussed how they could apply the knowledge and skills in their life, but time did not allow to fully explore how they could use that in their community. The trainers provided additional resources and guidance for students interested in pursuing these activities further.

Workshop 31.05.2024 (Gymnázium Nymburk)

The activity featured a dynamic workshop that explored various aspects of climate change, focusing greatly on legal empowerment and civic engagement. The meeting opened with discussions on the ongoing impacts of climate change on humans, educating students about activities that affect climate change on both small and large scales, and what actions public authorities can undertake to mitigate its effects.

A significant component of the training was a moot court simulation, where students participated in a mock trial involving a fictional case of air pollution from a coal plant affecting public health. A week before mock trial classroom teacher had devoted one hour to explain the upcoming moot court simulation and had assigned different roles to students (defendant, doctor, CEO of power plant etc.) and given them materials to read and prepare for their role.

Moot court helped illustrate basic legal concepts such as personal rights, claims, damages, and the right to live in a clean environment. It also specifically addressed how citizens can bring claims against public authorities for neglecting climate change issues, fulfilling the objective to educate students on legal recourse available when government actions are insufficient. Furthermore, the workshop supported students to think about various social and legal activities that young people can engage in to influence public authorities. These activities include organizing public demonstrations, participating in policy discussions, and utilizing legal tools like petitions and public hearings to advocate for environmental protection. The moot court not only showed how legal frameworks operate but also demonstrated the power of legal advocacy in effecting environmental policy changes. This approach emphasized the workshop’s broader goal of stimulating young citizens to reflect on and actively participate in the democratic and civic processes that shape environmental policies. At the end of activity students received Climate Change atlas alongside with other materials.

Workshop 06.06.2024 (Gymnázium Orlová)

This event was done in the former coal mining city of Orlová with the help of student parliament who has successfully lobbied their teachers to allow them to have this training done for them.

This workshop was prepared for high school students that wanted to focus on climate change and how they could use social and legal actions to strive for difference. We had begun by explaining ongoing climate change and its impact on planet earth and human society. During this presentation trainers had distributed Atlas of climate change among other materials. Two of the atlases should be now stored in the school’s library. During the discussion due to questions from the students (whether it is legal for anti-abortion proponents to have a stand in front of their school and persuade young students with as they called it disgusting pictures and pamphlets not to take abortion) we had also discussed the limits and importance of having active civil society. In the middle section of the event we taught students about the right to open speech, privacy, clean environment and right to assembly. After a short introduction where we had asked students two questions which all of them answered we let them separate into two groups. We had explained several legal and social tools they could use to put pressure on the government to adopt more environmentally friendly policies. These two groups then either worked on announcement of assembly or request for information. both of which are legal tools. Both teams also had to engage in thinking about how government could alleviate climate change. We had used that to let them to work on a tangible community event. At the end of this we let them explain to the other team what they were working on and how they had achieved this. This hands-on activity helped them learn how to use legal methods in real-life situations, encouraging them to take action and use their rights to support environmental causes. The trainers guided the students in figuring out what actions they could take and what legal steps they could use against those who ignore climate change. After that a short reflection followed. This way, the workshop prepared a group of young people to be active and make a difference in their communities.

Workshop 25.06.2024 (Gymnázium Arabská)

During this training course which was held 5 days before the end of school year we were particularly focused on explaining the relation between climate change and its impacts and legality. We were asked by the teacher to focus on explaining how Paris Accords could affect Citizens of Czech republic and how it was possible for such document to be signed.

Per usual we had begun with an introduction to the significance of ongoing climate change and its impact on humans, facilitated through videos and discussions. We split students in groups and let them to come up with both micro and macro activities influencing ongoing climate change. This was how we had included more detail regarding Paris Climate Accords into our workshop. We had let students create a timeline in groups of how Paris accord came into effect.

After that a key part of the workshop involved explaining actions public authorities should take to mitigate climate change. Trainers detailed legal concepts mainly on the international level as they were asked by the teacher. After that, students had learned about the various activities they could take to make pressure on public authorities and had together explored reasons for neglecting climate change. Trainers had briefly mentioned also legal concepts of personal rights, right to free speech and right to live in a clean environment to curb conspiratorial thoughts of two students that didn’t seem productive in any way.

This workshop concluded with reflection to promote active participation, critical thinking, and the practical application of learned legal tools in addressing climate change.