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Four in ten young people fear having children in the future because of climate change.

The global survey of 10,000 children and young people found more than three quarters (77 per cent) thought the future was frightening and nearly six in 10 said they were very or extremely worried about climate change.

More than half said they had felt afraid, sad, anxious, powerless, helpless and/or guilty, and almost half (45 per cent) said their concerns negatively affected their daily life.

Young people felt governments have failed them, betraying future generations, lying about the impacts of actions taken on climate change and dismissing people’s distress about the issue.

Less than a third (31 per cent) think governments are doing enough to avoid catastrophe, and almost two fifths (39 per cent) say they are even hesitant to have children. The figure for UK young people fearful of having children was 38 per cent.

The University of Bath’s Caroline Hickman, a co-leader of the study, said it pointed to a ‘horrific picture’ of widespread climate anxiety in children and young people and it suggested a link to government inaction.

She said: ‘This study paints a horrific picture of widespread climate anxiety in our children and young people. It suggests for the first time that high levels of psychological distress in youth is linked to government inaction.

‘Our children’s anxiety is a completely rational reaction given the inadequate responses to climate change they are seeing from governments. What more do governments need to hear to take action.’

She added: ‘We’re not just measuring how they feel, but what they think. Four out of 10 are hesitant to have children.

The study, which is under peer review for publication in the Lancet Planetary Health, collected data from 10,000 young people aged 16-25, online through research platform Kantar.

Respondents came from ten countries: the UK, Finland, France, Portugal, the US, Australia, Brazil, India, Nigeria and the Philippines.

The survey, developed by 11 international experts in psychology, child and adolescent mental health and climate anxiety, was conducted earlier this year.

It has been released as the UK prepares to host key global climate talks, Cop26, in Glasgow in November, at which leaders will be under pressure to up their action on curbing rising temperatures, against a backdrop of increasingly extreme weather conditions and stark warnings from scientists about inaction.

The UK findings, based on 1,000 youngsters, show 72 per cent finding the future is frightening, and 38 per cent saying they are hesitant to have children.

Around two thirds (65 per cent) of UK respondents believe the Government is failing young people, and only a third (32per cent) think it is acting in line with science.

Just a quarter (26 per cent) think the UK Government is doing enough to avoid catastrophe.

Dr Liz Marks, from the University of Bath and co-lead author on the study, said: ‘It’s shocking to hear how so many young people from around the world feel betrayed by those who are supposed to protect them.

‘Now is the time to face the truth, listen to young people, and take urgent action against climate change.’ Last month, the UN’s climate science body, the IPCC, issued a stark warning that humans were unequivocally driving climate change through actions such as burning fossil fuels, with impacts such as deadly heatwaves, fires, floods and storms already being felt.

It warned that without urgent and drastic action to cut emissions, climate extremes would continue to worsen.

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