Climate Change Persuasive Speech

Climate Change Persuasive Speech

From extreme weather, wildfires, and melting ice caps, to temperature rise, young people are aware of the impacts of climate change. They know that burning fossil fuels has a direct impact on global warming. Knowing that natural disasters will become more intense and more frequent for future generations can leave your students feeling hopeless. But, learning how to write, edit, and effectively deliver a climate change persuasive speech that evokes emotion and compels individuals to take action can help students feel empowered.

Though most teachers know that public speaking is an important life skill, it can be challenging to teach students how to do it in the classroom. SubjectToClimate is here to help with a variety of resources that will get students on their podiums and in the streets to spread the word about the dangers of burning fossil fuels and the value of renewable energy!

This Women’s History Month, it is important for teachers to spotlight the importance of students using their voices to promote long-term change and to highlight inspirational women who are making a difference in the climate crisis. The following resources will help your students see how women activists are leading the way in crafting climate change persuasive speeches to show others how human activities are causing global temperatures to rise and the climate crisis to persist.


Writing Persuasively

Writing Persuasively About Climate Change

Grades 9-12

ClimateScience has created an amazing foundational persuasive writing activity. This activity introduces students to the concept of civic engagement and direct action through writing. Students will practice persuasive writing techniques and the foundations of solid arguments. 

The teacher guide and handout are available to download and use offline. Get students thinking about persuasive writing before they receive the handout by writing tips on the board about making an argument effective. Once students have received the handout, teachers can take a moment to discuss the importance of civic engagement and its role in shaping a country's politics. This activity is ideal as a cross-curricular lesson plan to practice formal letter-writing skills. Students can swap their letters for peer-to-peer marking against the checklist, before editing and polishing their final drafts, or present their letters as speeches to the class.

World Leaders Speech

Students write and perform a speech pretending they are world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. 

World Leaders Speech

Grades 3-5

This resource is a fun class activity for students to write and perform a 1-2 minute speech pretending they are world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. The goal of teaching persuasive writing is to teach students to evoke emotion and passion about the things they are interested in. This activity empowers students to speak boldly and publicly about the urgency of the climate crisis. 

The teacher's guide contains examples of speeches to world leaders from children, including Alexandria Villaseñor, Greta Thunberg, and Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Watching the example speeches with the class will provide a rough idea of what to aim for and the types of skills needed to make a successful speech. Teachers can also check out other writing lessons including, Script Writing Activity, Book WritingSong Writing, and Climate Monologue.

Personal Narrative: Chiamaka Obilo

Spark discussion questions about the importance of personal narratives in civic actions and politics.

Grades 6-12

In this 5-minute video, Chiamaka Obilo, a senior at Harvard University, gives a speech at a climate rally in Boston. She speaks passionately about her personal health challenges, pollution, supporting science, participating in activism, and the importance of climate education. 

The associated lesson plan includes a student worksheet, a guide for hosting a climate strike or event, and a personal narrative writing assignment. This is a great lesson to encourage and prepare students to write a persuasive speech on climate change. Teachers must make a free account to access the teaching materials, but the video is available for public viewing. If you are looking for a similar lesson plan, check out this lesson plan on environmental injustice.

The video could be used as a hook for lessons about personal responsibility, the importance of participation in a democracy, freedom of speech, or the role of governments to represent the interests of their constituents. You can adjust the playback speed and provide closed captioning for ESL/ELL students or students with learning differences. The personal narrative assignment in the lesson plan could be used in English Language Arts classes or Social Studies classes.

Stay up-to-date with the latest free teaching resources and activities for ELA students

TED Talks: Katharine Hayhoe 

This gives students of all ages a concrete plan of action: talk about the climate crisis.

Katharine Hayhoe TED Talks

Grades 6-12

The first step to helping students write a persuasive speech about climate change is simply talking about the climate crisis! Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, explains in her TedTalk video that simply talking about climate change is the most powerful thing any individual can do to address climate change. She discusses how leading with the heart is far more powerful than leading with science or statistics. This shows students that the first step to writing a persuasive speech is to speak from the heart about a topic you are passionate about. 

Students should be encouraged to study Katharine Hayhoe's delivery throughout the video. Teachers can prompt students to think about how she evokes emotion, motivates and relates to her audience, the words that she chooses, her body language, etc. 

As an assignment, students could be tasked with talking about the climate crisis with one person. Students could pair up with other students to practice these climate chats. A really easy way to start these conversations is, "I'm really worried about climate change, and I want to talk about it." Students may feel scared, worried, sad, or angry after learning about the catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change. Empowering them to talk about the climate crisis with their friends and family is a great way to help them channel these feelings into action.

This video could be paired with how to have a climate conversation or enacting the solutions to climate change. These can provide hope and additional information. For further information on Katharine Hayhoe, students and teachers can find her on Twitter. She is currently the most followed climate scientist on Twitter. 

Greta Thunberg Is Leading a Global Climate Movement

This video is about how Greta Thunberg became involved in climate activism and why she cares so much about the climate crisis.

Grades 9-12

This video tells the story of Greta Thunberg, a climate activist from Sweden, and how she became involved in climate activism. Students will learn about her personal story and why she continues to drive climate awareness and action to stop global warming and climate change. Greta is famously known for giving emotional and passionate speeches and is a great example of the power of persuasive writing to evoke emotion and urgency. 

This video can provide cross-curricular connections to civics when discussing the use of laws and regulations to promote the common good. Other resources related to this topic include: Greta Meets MalalaClimate Disaster: Young People Act, and Food Waste. Students could also study her speech at the UN Action Summit.

Wangari Maathai & The Green Belt Movement

Students will learn about the connection between environmental, societal, and economic sustainability. 

Grades 6-12

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmentalist, political activist, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. In 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. The Green Belt Movement works with rural women to combat deforestation and replant trees in previously deforested areas. This work reduces erosion, restores ecosystems, protects clean water supplies, and provides income opportunities. Wangari Maathai’s speech is an excellent example for students to not only learn about environmentalism but also how to be compelling public speakers. 

It would be beneficial for students to be familiar with the ecological benefits of trees: producing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, stabilizing soils, reducing erosion, providing habitat, and regulating the water cycle. Teachers can make cross-curricular applications to ethics, economics, ecology, environmental justice, and sustainability.

Final Thoughts

Writing persuasive speeches about climate change helps students learn that their ideas matter.  By teaching them to share their ideas, we empower students to promote climate action. Our voices are our greatest tools, and these amazing women show us how to wield them properly. For more persuasive speech climate change resources follow the link.