SustainabilityEnvironmental and climate issues concern young people – Results from the latest youth study

Today, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) together with the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) published their representative youth study for 2021. According to the results, environmental and climate protection is an important issue for 85 percent of the young respondents, but only about a quarter were confident that the state of the environment and climate will develop positively in the future, while 71 percent were pessimistic about it.

For this representative study, the Institute for Ecological Economy Research, Holzhauerei and Zebralog were commissioned to survey a total of 1,010 young people aged between 14 and 22 years in June and July 2021 about the environment, climate, politics and their engagement.

These are further details:

  • Environmental and climate protection is important to 85 percent of young people making it one of the top four topics for youth in Germany, along with education (88 percent), healthcare (88 percent) and social justice (87 percent).
  • Three-quarters of respondents were optimistic about their personal future in about 20 years' time – but only one quarter was confident about the future state of the environment and climate while 71 percent were pessimistic.
  • 88 percent of the young people surveyed reported sadness about man-made environmental degradation and three quarters are afraid of the consequences of the climate crisis.
  • A clear majority felt that in addition to individual effort, the federal government as well as industry and business should do more to protect the environment and climate.
  • 62 percent of young people said they often use bicycles or public transport for everyday trips, 49 percent often avoid plastic packaging, 23 percent frequently support online petitions for environmental causes and 40 percent have already participated in climate strikes.

Steffi Lemke, Federal Minister for the Environment, noted: "Young people are optimistic about their personal future, but are very concerned about the future of our planet. The latter must be an obligation for us, especially in politics, to continue to keep an eye on the long-term challenges in times of acute crises and to find solutions for them. For young people, the climate crisis remains one of the most pressing problems. I therefore want to bring the wishes and perspectives of young people into the shaping of environmental policy to an even greater extent; the joint development of the youth study is just one example of this."

Dirk Messner, President of the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), said, "Most of the young people surveyed are convinced that the climate crisis can still be slowed down significantly through joint commitment. Many are also already campaigning for more environmental and climate protection in various ways - in everyday life as well as at the political level. That makes me confident. The coming years up to 2030 are now crucial for setting the course toward sustainability and climate neutrality. That's why I can very well understand that, at 81 percent, a clear majority thinks that politicians should listen more to the demands of young people on climate issues."

Source: BMUV & UBA

More information, UBA press release, study and infographic