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11th, 12th, AP® / College


Social Studies, Civics, History

Regional Focus

Global, Europe


YouTube Video

Is Democracy Failing at Climate Change?

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  • This video critiques the form of parliamentary democracy common today and proposes three solutions to update democracy.
  • Students are introduced to concepts like strategic voting, alternative votes, citizens' assemblies, and separation of powers.
Teaching Tips


  • This video challenges students to reflect on current power structures that they may otherwise consider unchangeable. 
  • The video is easy to follow and explains each concept it mentions.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You can select which part of the video you would like to watch by selecting it on the scroll bar at the bottom of the video.
  • Students should remember that the form of government (parliamentary democracy) discussed in the video may not have the same structure as their country's government.
  • There may be an advertisement before the video.


  • Have students consider how the ideas presented can be applied to their local, state, and national governments.
  • As a follow-up activity, turn your classroom into a citizens' assembly, challenging students to propose new ideas and laws that would positively impact their community.
  • Have students reflect on why democratic decision-making is important to solving climate change and ensuring climate justice.
  • This resource can also be used in economics classes during lessons about the role economic systems and private interests play in democracies.
Scientist Notes
This video resource presents a brief introduction on the climate crisis and then turns to politics, presenting the parliamentary process first as an obstacle to climate action and then providing possible solutions to make governments more representative of individual citizens. This resource primarily focuses on the parliaments of Europe, particularly Germany, but this provides a good opportunity to task students with examining how their governments compare. Voting strategies, policy-making, and citizen assemblies are discussed at length in this video and there are some excellent resources linked in the video description for further learning. This video resource is compelling, well-sourced and is recommended for teaching.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.1.9-12 Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of local, state, tribal, national, and international civic and political institutions.
      • D2.Civ.10.9-12 Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
      • D2.Civ.6.9-12 Critique relationships among governments, civil societies, and economic markets.
      • D2.Civ.8.9-12 Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
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