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Climate Emotions

Climate anxiety around the world

14 October 2022

In a study of over 12,000 people across 32 countries, feelings of climate anxiety was linked to:

  • Taking more climate and pro-environment actions. This was particularly the case in richer countries, likely due to experiencing fewer financial, political, and opportunity-barriers than those in poorer countries
  • Lower overall mental wellbeing (in 31 out of 32 countries)
  • Greater participation in climate protests in some countries, mostly European, democratic and relatively affluent countries

Higher exposure to information about climate impacts, was related to greater climate anxiety, but experiencing climate impacts was not. The study found that previous experience of flooding didn’t have a strong relationship to climate anxiety. The researchers suggested that:

“(T)here are important nuances in how people interpret their extreme weather experiences including politically-motivated biased cognition, and the fact that climate change is only one of several interpretive lenses with which people can choose to make sense of their experiences”.

The latest from the Climate Emotions timeline:

Climate Barometer Tracker 24th January 2024

Tracker data: The youngest and the poorest are most worried about climate and wellbeing

Climate Barometer data shows that while overall only around 16% of the public say they are worried that climate change will impact their ‘mental health and wellbeing’ over the next ten years, a closer look tells us a more nuanced story.

In line with an abundance of research showing young people have among the highest climate anxiety, the data shows a clear link between age and worry about mental health and wellbeing, with older groups much less concerned than younger groups.

Looking at the same question by income bands, those earning the least (under £5000 per year) are most likely to worry that climate change will affect their mental health and wellbeing, underscoring the connections between income, cost of living pressures,  and vulnerability to climate impacts.

Media Insight 15th November 2023

Reuters Institute report: UK audiences prefer climate coverage focused on ‘solutions’

The Reuters Institute for Journalism, at the University of Oxford, has released a report (following a similar analysis in 2022) analysing how people in eight countries – Brazil, France, Germany, India, Japan, Pakistan, the UK, and the USA – access news and information about climate change in 2023.

UK audiences (in line with those in other countries) rate ‘solutions focused’ climate news as the type of news they are most interested in, supporting the idea that there’s a need to balance the (necessary) focus on the risks and threat of climate change with reporting that signposts or highlights solutions to problems, as well as the problems themselves.

The Local Storytelling Exchange, grounded in solutions-focused regional reporting from around the UK, exists to address this need, showing ‘this is what the transition looks like’ through relatable stories that aim to build a sense of agency (which climate stories which only focus on risks and threats, can undermine).

  • Source: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
  • Date: 14th November 2023
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