What do the young people of the UK really think about the climate and nature emergencies?

Over the last two weeks we have been running a flash poll to find out what the young people of the UK really think about the climate and nature emergencies ahead of the 2019 General Election. We wanted to learn about how these emergencies make young people feel, how hopeful they are that we can fix these problems, and who they believe holds the most responsibility for tackling the causes and impacts of climate and ecological change. Over the past year, thanks to the global climate protests, young people have begun to be listened to far more on the subject of climate change. And it is vital they are heard, since they are inheriting this issue but have a key role to play in solving it now and in the future. Many of the young people who responded to our poll are not of voting age. We hope that communicating the results helps to make their voices heard.

The results below reflect responses collected up to the 9th December 2019, but we will leave the poll open to continue to gather as much information as we can on the fears and hopes of the next generation about our changing climate and environment. We have also presented the results in a map, showing the the distribution of responses, and details of those responses, from as far north as Inverness and as far south as Cornwall: http://arcg.is/vynf4

Key results so far

As of midday on 9th December we had received 1758 responses to this flash poll from young people aged between 7 and 22+. 

One of the strongest messages emerging from the response data is that young people believe governments have the biggest responsibility for tackling the climate and nature emergencies.

Only a little over half of responses sent a message of hope around being able to find a solution to the climate and nature emergencies, and that we can stop species loss.

When asked to rank on a scale of 1 to 4 whether they believed that the global community will take action in time to avoid the worst effects of climate change, only 5% of the young people who responded were strongly confident that it was possible.

Do you believe the world's people will take action to avoid the worst effects of the climate emergency in time_

We also asked participants whether they felt that they themselves were doing enough to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, and asked the same questions about their schools, colleges, and universities; local communities; businesses; the UK government, and governments worldwide. The results for individuals, educational institutions, and communities present a mixed picture, perhaps reflective of how information is communicated to the public about what they can do to offset their personal environmental footprint. But respondents sent a clear message that they do not believe that businesses, the UK government, or governments across world are doing enough to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

 

 

In addition to the responses described above, we also collected open responses to the following questions, represented below in the form of word clouds:

What do you understand by the term ‘climate emergency’?

What do you understand by the term ‘nature emergency’?

Add up to five words you think of when you think about the climate emergency.

Add up to five words you think of when you think about the nature emergency.

What is the ONE big thing you think the new Prime Minister should do to respond to the climate and nature emergencies?

Finally, we asked what the young people who responded, or their families, might do to help tackle the climate and nature emergencies…

We will conduct further analysis of the these qualitative responses in the coming weeks to evaluate the key feelings emerging from young people in the UK around the climate and nature emergencies.

Who are we?

We are Geographers For Life. We love and want to protect our planet, the people and wildlife on it. Whether you are a student, teacher, or an interested member of the public, our aim is to inspire, support and mobilise as many people as possible to take action to create a more beautiful and positive future. 

We are teachers and academics working in geography at all levels from Primary to Higher Education:  

Paul Chatterton (@PaulChatterton9 ) – Professor of Urban Futures at the University of Leeds

Caroline Clason (@Caroline_Clason) – Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth

Ben King (@benking01) – Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Torbay, Devon

Paula Owens (@Primageographer) – Teacher, mentor @LESSCO2Schools, visiting research fellow Canterbury Christ Church Uni.

Alan Parkinson (@GeoBlogs) – JVP of the Geographical Association, King’s Ely School

Daniel Raven-Ellison (@DanRavenEllison) – Explorer

Iain Stewart (@Profiainstewart) – Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth

You can follow us on our Twitter account @Geo4Life, and if you would like more information on the results of this poll, please contact us there, or via our personal Twitter accounts.

The Youth Climate Poll remains open for new responses, and can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSen_uaOKkdVKyOpPzWaXCbHnItOzbK3-ZDCalTUFMvJfM-XmQ/viewform

Please help to share this poll far and wide across the UK!

 

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