Climate change is a pressing global issue, and educating young generations about its causes, consequences, and potential solutions is crucial for fostering sustainable practices; mitigating and adapting to its impacts. Despite many efforts, the effects of climate change education on the cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors of schoolchildren and their surrounding communities, and the kind of interventions that are more effective for different populations and settings, are still poorly known. We conducted a systematic review encompassing a detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis of studies published until 2023, in 13 databases and five different languages, focusing on the impact of climate change education interventions targeting schoolchildren aged 5 to 19 years and their entourages. A rigorous search strategy resulted in a final selection of 146 articles from diverse geographical locations, educational frameworks, and intervention and assessment methodologies. Findings from the systematic review shed light on a highly dynamic body of research and educational practices, with a high diversity of original theoretical and practical strategies and analysis frameworks. Moreover, most documents (>80%) showed positive effects of the described interventions for the cognitive, attitudinal, or behavioral outcomes they analyzed. The cognition outcomes (knowledge and awareness) were clearer and more predominant than the effects on emotions and intent (attitudes) or habits and actions (behavior), which illustrates the so-called knowledge-behavior gap. We draw an overview of research and educational practices in climate change and report the efficient and innovative practices (e.g., intergenerational learning, student-centered pedagogical strategies) when the literature permits it. Competition (vs. collaboration) & fear/anger (vs. hope) emotions dampen positive outcomes for climate change behaviors while local, personally relevant, and transversal interventions or fostering strong links to nature, give promising positive outcomes. However, we highlight a probable publication bias, i.e., researchers and journals tend to preferentially publish original interventions showing positive effects as opposed to negative or null results. Therefore, for climate change education to become the motor of positive change that we hope for future generations, it appears crucial that the actors of this field strengthen the CCE community of practices (national curriculum, materials, and teachers’ training), report more systematically all context-specific educational intervention results and use a more common language in their evaluations of educational practice outcomes.
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