climate anxiety

Climate anxiety in children and young people


Lancet  2021 0907



Elizabeth Marks

University of Bath

Caroline Hickman

University of Bath

Panu Pihkala

University of Helsinki

Susan Clayton

College of Wooster

Eric R. Lewandowski

New York University (NYU) - Langone Health Center

Elouise E. Mayall

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Britt Wray

Stanford University

Catriona Mellor

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Lise van Susteren





Background: Climate change has significant implications for the health

and futures of children and young people, yet they have little power to

limit its harm, making them vulnerable to increased climate anxiety.

Qualitative studies show climate anxiety is associated with perceptions

of inadequate action by adults and governments, feelings of betrayal,

abandonment and moral injury. This study offers the first large-scale

investigation of climate anxiety in children and young people globally

and its relationship to government response.


Methods: We surveyed 10,000 young people (aged 16-25 years) in ten

countries. Data were collected on their thoughts and feelings about

climate change, and government response.


Findings: Respondents were worried about climate change (59% very or

extremely worried, 84% at least moderately worried). Over 50% felt sad,

anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty. Over 45% said their

feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and

functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about

climate change. Respondents rated the governmental response to climate

change negatively and reported greater feelings of betrayal than of

reassurance. Correlations indicated that climate anxiety and distress

were significantly related to perceived inadequate government response

and associated feelings of betrayal.


Interpretation: Climate change and inadequate governmental responses

are associated with climate anxiety and distress in many children and

young people globally. These psychological stressors threaten health

and wellbeing, and could be construed as morally injurious and unjust.

There is an urgent need for increases in both research and government