This Changes Everything - Climate Change and Social Justice

This Changes Everything - Climate Change and Social Justice

Lesson 4 of 10 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 9 - 10
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Geography
  • Business and Economics
  • Environmental
  • Climate Change
  • Sustainability
  • Social
  • Human Rights
  • Social Action
  • Economic
  • Financial Literacy
  • ...

Lesson summary

This Changes Everything includes a book by Naomi Klein and film by Avi Lewis. The texts join the dots between climate change, economic systems and the power of community action. Working from videos and extracts from This Changes Everything, students will compare responses to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and the pollution caused by the oil industry in Nigeria. They will define the term ‘climate debt’ and discuss the impacts of economic growth on people and the environment. Students will then analyse a proposed plan for wealthy countries to pay Ecuador not to sell its oil and write arguments to explain their position on the strategy of having wealthy countries compensate poorer countries for not exploiting their oil reserves.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • understand how economic the economic growth of wealthy countries has impacted poorer countries and the environment
  • understand what is meant by the term ‘climate debt’
  • recognise that there are many different ways that wealthy countries can redress their ‘climate debt’.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 9 Geography:

  • The effects of the production and consumption of goods on places and environments throughout the world and including a country from North-East Asia (ACHGK068)

Year 9 Economics and Business:

  • Why and how participants in the global economy are dependent on each other (ACHEK039)

Year 9 English:

  • Present an argument about a literary text based on initial impressions and subsequent analysis of the whole text (ACELT1771)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features (ACELY1746)

Year 10 Geography:

  • Human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability (ACHGK070)

Year 10 Economics and Business:

  • The ways businesses respond to changing economic conditions and improve productivity through organisational management and workforce management (ACHEK054)

Year 10 English:

  • Reflect on, extend, endorse or refute others’ interpretations of and responses to literature (ACELT1640)
  • Create sustained texts, including texts that combine specific digital or media content, for imaginative, informative, or persuasive purposes that reflect upon challenging and complex issues (ACELY1756)

Syllabus outcomes: GE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-4, GE4-5, GE5-2C5.2, C5.3, C5.4EN5-1A, EN5-5C.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative ThinkingEthical UnderstandingIntercultural Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.1, OI.6, OI.8.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Geography achievement standards: Students predict changes in the characteristics of places over time and identify the possible implications of change for the future.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Economics and Business achievement standards: Students analyse the interdependence of participants in the global economy.

Relevant parts of Year 9 English achievement standards: Students evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Geography achievement standards: Students predict changes in the characteristics of places and environments over time, across space and at different scales and explain the predicted consequences of change.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Economics and Business achievement standards: Students explain how businesses respond to changing economic conditions and improve productivity.

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: Students develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. 

Resources Required


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Cultural understanding
  • Ethical understanding
  • Problem solving
  • Global citizenship

Additional info

This Changes Everything explores the complex relationship between humans and our environment, and in particular how our economic system’s push for continual growth impacts both the environment and quality of life for all people. Both the book and the film present powerful portraits of communities on the front line of both fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis it is driving, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

This Changes Everything is a vehicle to discuss the climate crisis as an opportunity; an opportunity for a new economic model that accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way. It is through this context that the possibilities for hope and optimism amidst the climate crisis are explored. Teachers and students are critical to this conversation. After all, it will be young people who will inherit the world we have created, who will become the leaders tackling the many challenges and who will reinvent a different future.

This Changes Everything - Global Trailer (

Additional information:

To arrange for a screening of the This Changes Everything movie, please click here. The book is available to purchase here.

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