Climate change: Levels of fear among young people should spur delegates at UN Cop26 summit into action – Scotsman comment

45 days to Cop26: All over the world, vast numbers of young people are frightened.

Rescuers evacuate residents after heavy rainfall caused flooding in Quxian county, Dazhou city, in China's northwestern Sichuan province earlier this month (Picture: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

They feel this way not for any childish reasons, but because of warnings from world-leading scientists about what the future holds for them unless swift action is taken.

According to a survey of 10,000 people aged 16 to 25 in ten countries, including the UK, Brazil, Australia, India, US and Nigeria, nearly half reported climate anxiety and distress was affecting their daily lives. Some 75 per cent said they believed “the future is frightening” and nearly six in ten felt governments were “betraying me and/or future generations”.

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It’s harder to be complacent about warnings of catastrophic changes to the world’s climate when you may live to see the worst of it.

These fears are entirely rational, given they are based on well-established scientific research and simple observations of melting ice, heatwaves, wildfires and floods.

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What is utterly irrational – leaving aside the cynicism of those who know they will not live to see the full horror – is to hold onto the false hope that somehow global temperatures will miraculously stop rising.

Miracles almost never happen. It shouldn’t need to be said but they are not a sound basis for making decisions about anything.

Instead, the United Nations’ Cop26 climate summit must give young people real hope by laying out a comprehensive plan to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in a historic ‘Glasgow Agreement'.

If it does not, we will have failed our children and the young generation’s worst fears may well be realised.

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