Scanning media, the overwhelming narrative is that young people care more about climate change than the older generation as it is their future at stake. This viewpoint is strongly reinforced through images of Greta Thunberg and the burgeoning school climate strikes. But is it really the case?

Research by Hubbub with over 4,000 people suggests that the picture is more complex. Whilst there is undoubtedly a large group of young people who are highly concerned and vocal about climate change, the polling revealed that overall they are actually less concerned than the older generation (55% of 16-24 year olds compared with 66% of over 55s).

A quarter of young people aged 16-24 don’t believe that climate change is caused by human activity compared to 18% of the population as a whole. 30% of young people feel that climate change is not a problem that is relevant to them compared to 21% of the wider population and 33% think that the onus should be on other countries rather than the UK to address the problem.

The polling revealed that half of young people felt unsure that their actions would make a difference with just 1 in 5 thinking that they might. This could be because they have a sense of helplessness, which the polling revealed was felt by 49% of respondents. It could also be that they are more likely than older people to believe that government should be taking the lead (60% of 16-24 year olds compared with 47% of those aged over 45s).

Clearly the polling revealed the dangers of making sweeping generalisations, but from Hubbub’s perspective one answer stood out. The polling suggested that around a third of young people don’t feel that environmental campaigns are relevant to them. The movement has long known that it doesn’t appeal to a sufficiently wide demographic and this answer suggests this is partly because of the way campaigns are framed.

In response, Hubbub has launched a new campaign, supported by R&Co4Generations, seeking to reach 10,000 young people currently disengaged from the environmental debate. The campaign will be developed by 25 young people recruited from communities that are currently underrepresented in the environmental movement. It aims to make climate change relevant and accessible to young people, helping them to make the connection between social and environmental challenges and providing them with the confidence to talk authoritatively about the issue.

As with all Hubbub campaigns, the approach will be built around things that are of immediate concern to young people which are likely to include:

  • Accessing and using affordable tech for environmental and social change.
  • Saving money and cutting carbon through general spending, from fashion and beauty care to energy bills and transport.
  • Air quality and access to/creation of green spaces.
  • Sustainable and affordable food.

The selected development group of 25 young people will be given a safe and supported space, training and resources enabling them to develop campaign ideas that are likely to resonate with their peers. Hubbub will openly share the development process and key findings hoping that the wider movement can use the information to inform their thinking as we all strive to create a more diverse movement.

If you would like to receive more information about the campaign, visit the Make Our Move page or email [email protected]. You can also find the full raw data from this set of polling here.