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New survey: Floods and heatwaves driving rise in climate dread among parents and children

  •  Nearly three quarters (73%) of children worry about the impact of climate change on their generation
  • Children rate David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg as doing more ‘good’ for the planet than the Prime Minister
  • Ahead of COP 28, 84% of parents don’t feel confident that the current government will demonstrate strong global leadership on climate change

With a week to go until COP 28, new research conducted amongst parents and children across the UK highlights how much of a concern climate change across generations.

More than 3 in 4 parents (77%) are worried about the impact of climate change on their children’s generation, with almost three-quarters of parents (72%) believing that their concern surrounding climate change has grown in light of the recent extreme weather we have witnessed around the globe.

Concerningly, 69% children in the UK think their level of worry about the climate has also significantly increased because of extreme weather events like heatwaves and flooding over the last few years – as over 7 in 10 children (73%) worry about the impact of climate change on their generation and generations to come.

Despite this growing concern, 84% of parents do not feel confident that the current government will demonstrate strong global leadership on climate change, according to the charity Save the Children.

The survey also revealed children’s disappointment with the Prime Minister’s efforts on climate change, with just 8% naming Rishi Sunak as the figure doing the ‘most good’ for the planet. Children named David Attenborough (46%), and Greta Thunberg (27%) as the more influential figures instead. Children also believe social media influencers and YouTubers are doing more for climate change than the Prime Minister.

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.”

Save the Children is raising the alarm that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, particularly in lower income countries as a result of the climate crisis. This means the poorest families in these countries are less able to protect themselves when climate shocks occur. The organisation calls for the UK to step up its action to address the climate crisis and increase climate funding to support lower-income countries, who are on the sharp end of the crisis. The agency is also urging the government to ensure children’s rights, needs and voices are at the heart of all climate action and funding.



The research for Save the Children was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 27/1023 and 30/10/23 among a panel of 1,000 children, aged 9-17 years old and 2,003 parents aged 18+ . All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2019) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (2018).