Climate Literacy: What Are Carbon Emissions?

Climate Literacy: What Are Carbon Emissions?

Lesson 3 of 5 in this unit

  • Cool+
  • Secondary
  • Year 10
  • Science
  • Earth and Space
  • Environmental
  • Climate Change
  • ...

Lesson summary

Students will look at carbon, the carbon cycle and carbon dioxide (CO2). They will understand how human activities are resulting in rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere, explore how these levels are measured and understand how actions to reduce CO2 levels can be communicated. 

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • understand that the carbon cycle moves carbon through our Earth and atmosphere
  • understand that CO2 occurs naturally in our atmosphere but that human activities are causing CO2 levels to rise
  • recognise actions we can take to reduce our personal CO2 emissions.

Success criteria:

Students can...

  • describe the slow and fast carbon cycles and how humans are impacting these cycles
  • explain methods used by scientists to measure CO2 in our atmosphere
  • communicate the CO2 emissions associated with daily actions.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Climate Change Factsheet
Talking About Climate Change Factsheet

Lesson details


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

  • creative thinking
  • critical thinking
  • communication
  • digital literacy

Curriculum Mapping

Australian Curriculum (v9.0) content description:

Year 10 Science: 

  • Use models of energy flow between the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere to explain patterns of global climate change (AC9S10U04)

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-ENV-01

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 10 Science achievement standards: Students describe trends in patterns of global climate change and identify causal factors. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

  • Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.

Resources Required

  • Climate Change Fact Sheet (optional)
  • Devices with internet access for students to conduct research and create infographics
  • Infographic Assessment Rubric
  • Student Worksheet - one for each student
  • Teacher support - Talking About Climate Change Fact Sheet
  • Whiteboard capable of YouTube videos and other images.

Resources can be found in the Lesson Plan above.

Additional Info

These lessons draw on concepts from the Carbon Almanac.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium - oversee class discussions and oversee group activities.

Related Professional Learning

How To Teach Sustainability With Hope 

Quick Summary: This course will help you find out how to bring hope to challenging, upsetting or worrying topics around sustainability.

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