The largest-ever study of its kind on young people’s attitudes to climate change found 75 per cent of young people in 10 countries believe “the future is frightening”.
The study, led by Bath University in the UK and supported by other universities and the Climate Psychiatry Alliance, took in the views of some 10,000 16- to 25-year-olds across the globe.
It found for the first time that young people’s experience of “climate anxiety” is strongly linked to perceived levels of government inertia on the issue.
The participants hailed from the United Kingdom, Finland, Portugal, Brazil, France, Australia, the United States, India, Nigeria and the Philippines.
Across the board, 58 per cent said their government was “betraying me and/or future generations”, while 64 per cent said their government was not doing enough to avoid environmental disaster.
Among those surveyed 59 per cent said they were “very” or “extremely” worried about climate change. More than half of all participants reported feeling “anger”, “fear” and “shame” while a full 56 per cent agreed with the statement “humanity is doomed”.
Nearly half of the young respondents, at 45 per cent, said climate anxiety and distress was affecting their daily lives. A little over half, 55 per cent, felt they would have fewer opportunities than their parents, while four out of 10 said the issue made them hesitant to have children.
The study, the full results of which will be shared later on Tuesday, raised the alarm over widespread psychological distress among children and young people globally linked to environmental damage.
Co-lead author Caroline Hickman, from the University of Bath and the Climate Psychiatry Alliance, said: “This study paints a horrific picture of widespread climate anxiety in our children and young people.
“It suggests for the first time that high levels of psychological distress in youth is linked to government inaction.
“Our children’s anxiety is a completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments. What more do governments need to hear?”