The Youth Working Group of Belfast Climate Commission have designed a youth led, action research project to explore young peoples’ views and opinions across a range of issues associated with Climate Change.
Launched at the Climate Crisis Youth Summit on Friday 5th November in Belfast City Hall, the report presents the findings from a survey which was designed to capture the views and perspectives of young people (aged 13-24 years old) living in Northern Ireland, about climate change
The Survey - October 2021
Information was gathered through an online survey based on 4 themes;
- Knowledge and understanding of climate change
- Accessing information around climate change
- Personal participation in climate change related issues
- The future and the impact of climate change
Key points from the report
- 30% of young people indicated that they had been directly affected by climate change. Of those that had been affected, 41% experienced ‘anxiousness’ while 13% suggested that they had become distracted from other things.
- There is an issue of trust when it comes to accessing infomation. 95% of young people trust information from scientists while 35% trust local politicians with information about climate change
- Most young people think that it's not too late - 88% of young people believe something can be done to reduce the negative effects of climate change.
- 87% of the young people surveyed agree that 'We all have a role to play in protecting the environment’.
- More than half of young people either agree or strongly agree with the statement that ‘I feel ignored by adults and people in power’.
In a response to the survey findings the Belfast Climate Commission Youth Working Group developed a series of actions in the hope that they will raise knowledge and awareness of climate change and support those already engaged on the issues.
- Youth representation on Climate: The findings from the survey repeatedly reinforce the view that climate change is of significant interest to young people and that they are their fearful for the future. In light of the importance of the issue it may be appropriate to consider the creation of an independent Youth Climate Commissioner who is responsible for advocating on young people’s concerns and facilitating engagement across stakeholders. Alongside a commissioner there is also scope to develop a training programme for young people so they can become peer climate educators and support future engagement between young people and those tasked with implementing relevant policy.
- Accessing Information about Climate Change: The findings suggest that young people trust scientists in terms of accessing information about climate change. However, it appears that they have less confidence in politicians. Therefore, it may be appropriate for elected representatives to use multiple platforms with ‘experts’ in the field of climate change to support the delivery of key messages and policy launches.
- Providing resources for Educators: According to the responses from the survey the young people trust schools and colleges as places to receive information about climate change. Therefore, it is important that educational settings and the staff have the tools, resources, and expertise to engage with young people on issues pertaining to climate change. There should also be an emphasis on teacher training and continued professional development on issues such as Carbon Literacy and the Eco-Schools Programme.
- More political engagement with Young People: The findings overwhelming show that young people access their information relating to climate change through online platforms. However, only a very small number were aware of the two climate change bills currently going through the Assembly. There may be an opportunity for our political institutions to engage with young people more, to better inform their own methods, style and tone surrounding their communications on issues relating to climate change. There is a need to simplify the language and terminology associated with climate change and ensure young people can both access and interpret the necessary information so they can contribute to the discussions.
- Employment and Skills: The analysis of the survey revealed that young people support the development of greener employment opportunities. There is an appetite for more information regarding this topic and this could be used as a vehicle for politicians, policy makers and young people to constructively engage on producing tangible outputs which look to address the negative impacts of climate change
The report was launched at Belfast City Hall on Friday 5th November 2021. Watch the event online.