A survey of 500 11 to 16-year-old schoolchildren in Brighton & Hove has shown that that 55% are very or fairly worried about the environment.
Six secondary schools in the city took part in the survey, which was run by Brighton & Hove City Council in partnership with Eco Action Families, and the results were revealed at a conference hosted by the council for headteachers and principals.
The survey also highlighted that less than a quarter of young people felt excited about the future and 89% said it was important to learn about the climate and ecological crisis.
Only 7% said they had advanced knowledge of the environment and nearly half felt they had only a basic understanding or no knowledge at all.
Katie Eberstein, Brighton & Hove Environmental Education Officer, who published the survey, said: “It’s clear from the survey that despite the pandemic young people still see this as a priority and want schools to address the climate emergency.”
This also reflects a national study by Oxfam which found that 68% of pupils want to learn more about climate change, and a report from Teach for Future which said 70% of teachers felt they hadn’t had adequate training in climate change.
Brighton & Hove recently hosted a conference with more than 40 leaders of schools and colleges which focused on the importance of embedding climate change and biodiversity into the whole school.
Cllr Hannah Clare, chair of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said: “The results of this study show a strong case for environmental education.
“It’s never been more important to address tackling the climate crisis with young people, an issue which is clearly so important to them.
“With less than 10 years left to halt the dramatic effects of our climate emergency, young people need to be provided with skills and knowledge about the climate crisis, as well as hope for the future.
“I was thrilled to attend our recent education climate conference. It was a fascinating day of discussion.
“It was truly fantastic to be among more than 40 school and college staff who were sharing ideas on how we tackle this challenge together.
“It’s clear that many of our schools and colleges have ambitions to develop climate education throughout their curriculums, to invest in staff training and tackling toxic emissions.
“The need to work together on how we tackle the climate crisis in schools is why we have invested just under £100,000 this year in developing an environmental education strategy.
“We will be discussing this in more detail at June’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee.
“We will work together with and be led by our city’s fantastic headteachers and principals, and by working together with the council, we believe we can achieve the ambition to make climate education a reality and not just an aspiration.”