A new study, which asked 10,000 young people aged 16 to 25 from around the world about the anxiety they feel related to climate change has produced results that underline how important tackling climate change is to the majority of young people on the planet.
Led by the University of Bath, with contributions from other universities in the UK, USA and Finland, the study is entitled 'Young People's Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon'. It has been released by the journal Lancet Planetary Health on a pre-publication basis and is the largest survey of its kind to date.
Almost 60% of the young people questioned for the study reported feeling 'very' or 'extremely' worried about climate change. More than 45% said that worrying about climate change negatively affected their daily lives, while 39% said they were hesitant to have children in the future as a result of climate change.
An important takeaway from the report is that 65% of all young people felt that government responses to climate change were failing young people. That sentiment was at its highest in Brazil, where 79% of respondents agreed with it, and lowest in Finland, where 47% of young people agreed with it. Here in the UK, 65% felt our government's response was failing young people.
Only 31% globally felt that governments were doing enough to avoid climate catastrophe and that they could be trusted on climate change, whilst just 33% felt that governments were doing enough to protect people and planet. The next UN Climate Conference, COP26, which is due to take place in Glasgow this November will give the world's governments the opportunity to agree on a set of actions to combat climate change and to address young people's concerns. But with issues over costs and travel safety brought abut by the ongoing Covid pandemic, some are now calling for the postponement of the talks until the spring of 2022, when more representatives from the global South, who are already suffering the greatest impacts from climate change, will be fully vaccinated and able to travel safely.
Researchers questioned young people in the UK, USA, Finland, France, Portugal, Australia, Brazil, India, Nigeria and the Philippines for the study.