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Students, climate change and COP26

We asked students in further and higher education in the UK about their views, understand and experiences of climate change and issues related to the COP26 climate change negotiations, held in Glasgow in 2021.

Before the event, in September 2021, just over 1200 students responded to the survey revealing:

  • 90% are either concerned or very concerned about climate change
  • 40% of respondents say they know at least something about the UK’s approach to tackling climate change
  • However 26% say they know at least something about what COP26 is trying to achieve
  • The most commonly reported response is that respondents ‘don’t know’ how their views, experiences and concerns related to climate change are represented at COP26.
  • For those that do know (60%), 13% see their views and experiences being represented
  • For the goals outlined for the COP, more respondents believe the UK is not doing enough to deliver on the goals than believe enough is being done. For example 52% believe not enough is being done on mobilising finance to support climate action in developing countries, compared to 11% that think enough is being done
  • More than half of respondents believe climate change will have only negative consequences in the region where they live (54%) and in the world overall (58%)

In January 2022 after COP26 ended, we followed up our initial research with another survey with just over 1000 students. They told us:

  • They know more about what COP26 was trying to achieve compared to prior to the event - 50% say they know at least something about this compared to 26% before the event.
  • The change in respondents who say they know at least something about the UK's approach to tackling climate change is small, increasing from 40% to 48%.
  • Most respondents said they didn't know how their views, concerns and experiences were represented at COP26 (33%). 26% said they saw their views and experiences being represented, compared to 13% prior to the event.
  • 71% agreed that education should form an important part of all future COP events, following the first education ministers' summit at COP26.
  • 69% agree with the proposal announced by the UK government during COP26 that young people in the UK should be educated from nursery to university levels on the importance of conserving and protecting our planet.
  • 43% are interested, to some extent, in the proposals made by the UK Government for a Climate Leaders Award – recognising the contribution and achievement of young people involved in protecting their local environment.

Read the full research findings by downloading our report.


SOS-UK - Student Opinion - Climate change and COP26