What do young people really think about climate change?

This report is based on focus groups and a survey of 500 young people. It explores young people’s views on climate change, what they want to see from the transition to a low carbon society, and how they would like to be involved.

Published November 2021


Fay Holland, Policy & Research Executive

Radya Syed, Policy & Research Trainee

The report found that young people:

  • Do not need convincing about the threat posed by climate change: almost all young people feel that tackling climate change is important to them personally.
  • Are less confident in their knowledge about climate change: most feel that they did not learn enough about climate change in school.
  • Want to be involved in climate action and feel that knowing more about local environmental activity would help them get involved.
  • Often feel excluded by climate and environmental movements and struggle to find examples of people like them who are involved in climate action.
  • Want to see positive changes in their communities come out of climate action, including better public transport, better access to nature, and opportunities for green careers.
  • Think they are not being taken seriously enough in decision making by local authorities and the government and want to see more action from those in power.

Calls for action

As a result of these findings, the report calls for four changes to help young people engage with climate and the environment, and to build the greener futures they want:

1. More opportunities to learn about climate change, the environment, and green careers

  • Climate education should be a golden thread running through the school curriculum.
  • Improved careers education in schools, colleges, and higher education settings.

2. A more diverse and inclusive environmental sector

  • Environmental organisations must speed up their work to increase diversity.
  • Create subsidised entry-level positions through a National Nature Service.

3. Young people’s aspirations for a greener future to be at the heart of efforts to ‘level up’ communities

  • Government funding programmes to regenerate disadvantaged areas should align with plans to reduce carbon emissions and support nature’s recovery.
  • Our economic recovery strategy should prioritise support for environmental enterprises.

4. A greater say for young people in decisions about tackling climate change

  • A Wellbeing of Future Generations Act should be introduced for the whole of the UK, building on the model in place in Wales.
  • We need to increase the availability of publicly funded youth work to equip young people to participate fully in communities and decision-making.

Read the full report

You can view the full report below. To make it easier to read you can click on the report to make it full screen and zoom in and out using the controls on the bottom of the page. You can also use the toolbar to download a PDF version.