Skip to main content
  • Overview
  • Jan '24
    Tracker data: The youngest and the poorest are most worried about climate and wellbeing
  • Comment: Why should we care about climate emotions?
  • Nov '23
    Reuters Institute report: UK audiences prefer climate coverage focused on ‘solutions’
  • Oct '23
    Tracker data: Most believe they can make a difference on climate, but over a third don’t
  • Map of ‘action based’ stories aims to offer hope through seeing others acting
  • Sep '23
    Anger Monitor research: ‘constructive’ anger can motivate climate action
  • Government opinion tracker shows levels of climate concern remain high in 2023
  • Opinium polling: A third of young people seek counselling and medical help for eco-anxiety
  • Aug '23
    Resources for working with climate emotions
  • Research paper: testing hope-based messaging
  • Oct '22
    ONS survey shows high level of worries about climate change in 2022
  • Climate anxiety around the world
  • Jun '22
    Mapping worry about climate change
  • Jan '22
    Climate Emotions Wheel shows the range of climate emotions
  • Dec '21
    Research paper: Emotions as drivers of climate change opinions and actions
  • Large scale survey of young people across 10 countries shows majority are worried and feel the future is frightening
  • Dec '20
    Research paper: Our climate actions can shape how we feel
Topic

Climate Emotions

Filter content Please note: The page will automatically update when any filters are changed or set.
  • In Brief

    For many people, climate change provokes strong and at times overwhelming feelings: fear, anxiety, and despair are commonly reported emotions. And when younger people speak to older generations about climate change, the strongest emotions felt are betrayal, uncertainty and worry. These are powerful and challenging responses that are valid and legitimate in the context of the scale and pace of climate change.

    Emotions like these matter because of their ability to shape people’s experiences, thoughts and actions. Both positive and negative emotions underpin a wide range of responses to climate change – from policy support to building community resilience. Anger (in its different forms) has been found to predict activism and support for climate policy. And while not as commonly reported as other emotions, a sense of optimism can be found in taking meaningful personal steps, or being inspired by the stories and actions of others.

    Yet emotions also have the power to disconnect people from thinking or caring about climate change. For those who are disillusioned with or disengaged from the climate conversation, their strongest emotions may be reserved for their rejection of climate policies or environmentalism in general (sometimes called ‘contrarian’ anger). For some people, climate change doesn’t provoke many emotions at all.

    This thread brings together research on the emotional spectrum that people experience – and campaigners appeal to – around climate change.

  • 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
    Climate Barometer Tracker 19th October 2023

    Tracker data: Most believe they can make a difference on climate, but over a third don’t

    Climate Barometer tracker data shows that the majority of the public agree that there are actions they can take that can make a difference to climate change. However, a notable segment of the public disagrees, and even more are unsure. Feelings of resignation, helplessness or even fatalism are features of the public discourse on climate change, and are realities that any campaign efforts must content with. Building a sense of agency (‘I can do this’) and ‘efficacy’ (‘what I do matters’) is a prerequisite for campaigns to be successful.

    From the Climate Community 23rd September 2023

    Anger Monitor research: ‘constructive’ anger can motivate climate action

    Anger is a powerful emotion. The Anger Monitor, a project of the Mind Works Lab, surveyed people in six countries (including the UK) and identified different types of anger in relation to climate change.

    ‘Toxic’ anger is difficult for climate activists to engage with, and is the type of anger that can be easily weaponised by extremists. But ‘constructive’ anger can motivate climate action, the Anger Monitor report argues, especially if activists harness the power of constructive anger through empowering campaign actions (these could include ‘feeling heard’ or taking actions to prepare for extreme weather conditions).

    Echoing previous research that has recommended combining the strong emotions elicited by climate impacts with tangible mitigation/energy saving actions, the Anger Monitor research advises leaning into the range of emotions that different types of climate content invoke. Anger and worry levels can be raised by worsening climate impacts, but a sense of qualified hope can be instilled from seeing others taking tangible action.

    • Source: Mindworks -
    • Date: 29th November 2023
    Opinion Insight 21st September 2023

    Government opinion tracker shows levels of climate concern remain high in 2023

    Government climate opinion tracker data shows that concern about climate change remains very high in the UK in 2023:

    • The majority of people (81%) said they were at least fairly concerned about climate change in summer 2023, with no significant change in overall levels of concern since Winter 2022 and Spring 2023 (82%). In Summer 2023, 40% said they were very concerned and 4% said they were not at all concerned.
    • There has been a slow but steady decline in overall concern since Autumn 2021, and a steady increase in the proportion of people saying they were not very or not at all concerned – but the overall trend is continuing high concern.

    There were also some important differences between segments of the population:

    •  Concern about climate change was higher for women (85%, compared with 78% of men)
    • Concern was higher for people educated to degree level (88%, compared with 82% of those with other qualifications and 70% of people with no qualifications).
    • The proportion of those ‘very concerned’ about climate change was higher among those aged over 65 (46%) and lower among those aged 16 to 24 (34%) and those aged 35 to 44 (33%).
    Opinion Insight 8th September 2023

    Opinium polling: A third of young people seek counselling and medical help for eco-anxiety

    A poll conducted by Opinium for the ethical bank Triodos found alarmingly high numbers of young people are seeking mental health support for environmental and climate anxiety. The survey of 2,000 UK adults, reported in The Times, found that 14 per cent of the population have sought help, however, this figure more than doubles to 29 per cent among 18 to 34-year-olds. In striking contrast, the figure falls to just 3 per cent amongst the 55+ age group.

    Commenting on the findings in The Times, Dr Carloline Hickman at the University of Bath said:

    We do not want to classify it as a mental illness. It is socially, collectively, politically caused. There is nothing wrong with people worried about climate change.

    Opinion Insight 28th October 2022

    ONS survey shows high level of worries about climate change in 2022

    Polling by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that three in four adults (74%) reported feeling ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about climate change – similar to the percentage who said they felt worried (75%) the year before, in 2021.

    Just 1 in 10 people (9%) felt ‘unworried’ (somewhat unworried or not at all worried) about climate change, and around one in five (17%) said they were neither worried nor unworried.

    The most frequently reported reason among those who were unworried or neither worried nor unworried about climate change was feeling that ‘there are more urgent priorities to be worried about’ (55%, up from 34% the prior year).

    From the Climate Community 29th June 2022

    Mapping worry about climate change

    In a global report, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that a majority of people in almost every region of the world surveyed said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ worried about climate change.

    More than nine in ten respondents in Mexico (95%), Portugal (93%), Chile (93%), Puerto Rico (92%), Costa Rica (92%), Ecuador (91%), Panama (91%), Peru (91%), and Colombia (91%) say they are worried. In contrast, only about one in three respondents in Yemen (32%) and just under half of respondents in Jordan (48%) say they are worried about climate change.

    • Source: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
    • Author: Anthony Leiserowitz and colleauges
    • Date: 29th June 2022
    Opinion Insight 14th January 2022

    Climate Emotions Wheel shows the range of climate emotions

    Research by Panu Pihkala sheds light on the vast array of climate emotions that people can feel in response to the climate crisis.

    The paper details specific emotions (such as fear, dread, hope, loneliness, and embarrassment) while showing how these fit into broader emotional categories (e.g. surprise-related, threat-related, sadness-related, anxiety-related). Altogether, the work lists over 50 distinct types of emotion that people may experience in relation to climate change.

    The ‘Climate Emotions Wheel’ brings together the more detailed work into a simple, accessible visualisation.

    • Source: Frontiers
    • Author: Panu Pihkala
    • Date: 14th January 2022
    Opinion Insight 1st December 2021

    Research paper: Emotions as drivers of climate change opinions and actions

    This open access research paper explains how emotions are key influences on the ways people think about climate change, and the actions they might take to address the climate crisis. It outlines how both positive and negative emotional communications can promote sustainable behaviours.

    Emotions trigger ‘motivational tendencies’ that influence people’s ability to cope with different types of situations. For instance, fear can lead to defensive responses (such as fight, flight, or freeze), while sadness can result in seeking to change one’s personal circumstances.

    Emotions also influence how we think about issues and evaluate responses – for instance, emotions like hope, fear or anger may influence our sense of risk from climate change, or how much control we feel in pursuing different types of actions.

    • Source: Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
    • Author: Tobias Brosch
    • Date: 1st December 2021
    Opinion Insight 1st December 2021

    Large scale survey of young people across 10 countries shows majority are worried and feel the future is frightening

    In a survey of 10,000 children and young people (aged 16–25 years) across ten countries around the world (including the UK) found that:

    • Children and young people in all countries were worried about climate change (59% were very or extremely worried and 84% were at least moderately worried).
    • More than 50% reported each of the feeling the following emotions in relation to climate change: sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty.
    • More than 45% of respondents said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning.
    • Many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change (75% said that they think the future is frightening and 83% said that they think people have failed to take care of the planet).
    • Respondents rated governmental responses to climate change negatively and reported greater feelings of betrayal than of reassurance.
Loading more posts...

Add Feedback