Climate dread among children

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Climate dread among children and parents has risen due to increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as floods and heatwaves, a poll has suggested.

The time for half measures is long past. There is no planet B.

 The survey, carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of Save The Children, asked 1,000 children, aged nine to 17, and 2,003 parents aged over 18 in the UK about their climate change concerns.

It found that 73% of children and 77% of adults who responded to the survey said they worried about the impact of climate change on the younger generation. Meanwhile, 69% of children and 72% of parents thought their level of worry about the climate had significantly increased because of extreme weather events over the last few years, the research suggested.

It also found that 84% of parents who responded to the survey did not feel confident that the UK Government would demonstrate strong global leadership on climate change, as Cop28 approaches at the end of the month. 


In terms of the response of high-profile figures, some 8% of children said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was doing the “most good” for the planet, compared with 46% choosing David Attenborough and 27% choosing Greta Thunberg.

Shruti Agarwal, senior adviser on climate change and sustainable economies at Save The Children, said: “Children are growing up in a world where extreme events like wildfires, floods and hurricanes have become the frightening new normal. They stand to inherit a planet with even more frequent extreme weather events than ever before.

“Children are anxious and alarmed by the climate crisis – justifiably so, particularly as action to tackle the climate emergency has been woefully inadequate. With the Prime Minister attending Cop28, he must seize the opportunity along with world leaders to show children they are listening and prepared to protect their futures.

“The UK’s rhetoric on climate leadership already rings hollow as its actions reflect a failure to confront the crisis with the urgency it requires. Children in the UK and across the world tell us they know their future depends on bold action now. The time for half measures is long past. There is no planet B.”

The charity said it was calling on the UK Government to step up its action to address the climate crisis and increase climate funding to support lower-income countries, who were on the sharp end of developments. It was also urging the Government to ensure children’s rights, needs and voices were at the heart of all climate action and funding, it added. The PA news agency has contacted the Foreign Office for comment.

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Rebecca Speare-Cole is a PA Sustainability Reporter.

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