In Brief: Young adults want their governments to protect climate vulnerable countries

Young activists and their allies leading a climate strike in California, United States. Photo by: Fabrice Florin / CC BY-SA

A majority of young people want their leaders to support low- and middle-income countries that are the most at risk of a warmer planet, according to a new survey of 2,878 people aged 16 to 39 across four countries: The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Nigeria.

Sixty-four percent of young people surveyed thought governments should prioritize "protecting vulnerable countries who are worst affected by climate change.” And while more than half in each nation agreed, the proportion varied widely from country to country: 88% of Nigerians were in favor, compared to just 53% in the U.S. Germany and the U.K. were 62% and 63% in favor respectively.  

The survey, conducted by strategy firms Purpose Union, Root Cause, and the Brand & Reputation Collective, also found 67% of the young people surveyed wanted governments to commit to more ambitious targets to reduce emissions.

“The level of support for protecting vulnerable countries is striking. Younger generations understand that while poorer countries are being hit hardest by the effects of climate change, historical responsibility lies with industrialised nations. I think this means we’ll see greater scrutiny of adaptation outcomes and principles of fairness from the Glasgow summit,” said Barry Johnston, founding partner of Purpose Union.

The 26th Conference of Parties summit — more commonly known as COP26 — will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November. It is being widely viewed as a crucial measure of the progress made on the commitments to combat climate change made by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

A recently released survey by the U.N. Development Programme, called the “People’s Climate Vote,” found that younger generations were more likely to call climate change an emergency than older ones, with 69% of under-18s agreeing compared to just 58% of those over 60.

About the author

  • William Worley

    William Worley is the U.K. Correspondent for Devex, covering DFID and British aid. Previously, he reported on international affairs, policy, and development. He also worked as a reporter for the U.K. national press, including the Times, Guardian, Independent, and i Paper. His reportage has included work on the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, drought in Madagascar, the "migrant caravan" in Mexico, and Colombia’s peace process. He can be reached at