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Young Filipinos are frightened about their future

A NEW global study titled 'Young people's voices on climate anxiety, government betrayal and moral injury: A global phenomenon' manifests the deep anxiety of young Filipinos about climate change:

· Ninety-two percent of are frightened about their future.

· Seven out of 10 (73 percent ) think that humanity is doomed.

· Nine out of 10 (93 percent) feel that fellow Filipinos have failed to care for planet.

· Eighty-four percent are very to extremely worried about their future under climate change.

· Seventy-seven percent feel their family security is threatened.

· Seventy percent feel that they have less opportunity than their parents while almost half (47 percent) are hesitant to have children of their own.

According to the study, climate change has significant implications for the health and futures of children and young people yet they have little power to limit the harm, making them vulnerable to increased anxiety.

'Climate anxiety and eco-anxiety - distress relating to the climate and ecological crises - are increasing across society as people become increasingly aware of the current and future global threats associated with our warming planet,' the authors said. Climate anxiety involves many emotions: worry, fear, anger, grief, despair, guilt, shame and also hope.

The study covered a total of 10,000 young Filipinos aged 16 to 25 together with nine other countries representing the global north - Australia, Finland, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States of America - and the global south - Brazil, India and Nigeria. These countries were chosen to reflect a range of cultures, incomes, climates, climate vulnerabilities and exposure to differing intensities of climate-related events.

The study was led by the University of Bath (United Kingdom) together with five other universities - the University of Helsinki (Finland), The College of Wooster (USA), New York University (USA), University of East Anglia (UK) and Stanford University (USA). The study has not been peer-reviewed.

More than two months ago, I shared the 'International Public Opinion on Climate Change' study that revealed that 75 percent of Filipinos were 'alarmed' and 'concerned' about climate change. As defined by the report, 'alarmed' refers to those who are convinced that climate change is happening - it is human-caused and an urgent threat and they should strongly support climate policies while 'concerned' refers to those who think human-caused climate change is happening, is a serious threat and support climate policies.

Just two Saturdays ago, I wrote about the inaugural Children's Climate Risk Index published by the United Nations Children's Fund that provided the first comprehensive study of children's exposure and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. In the report, children from the Philippines, together with 32 other countries, are considered 'at extremely high risk' to climate and environmental hazards, shocks, and stresses despite the fact that these countries are among the least responsible for the increasing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Many young Filipinos will ask whether the government is doing enough to address the climate emergency we are facing. This is one of the most common questions I have been asked during engagements with young people - the most recent with the youth of San Pablo City in Laguna and students of the Bulacan State University.

The same study released by the University of Bath revealed the following additional findings:

· Sixty-eight percent of young Filipinos believe the government is failing them.

· Sixty-nine percent feel the government is lying about the impact of actions taken.

· More than half (56 percent) feel the government is betraying them and future generations.

· Fifty-three percent think the government is dismissing people's distress.

· About half (52 percent) feel the government is acting in line with climate science.

· Less than half (47 percent) believe the government is protecting them, the planet and the future generations.

· Less than half (42 percent) think the government is doing enough to avoid catastrophe.

· Four out of 10 think the government can be trusted on their response to the climate emergency.

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Climate anxiety may not constitute a mental illness, the study said, but the realities of climate change, together with the government's failure to act, will deliver chronic, long-term and potentially inescapable stressors. These conditions will worsen mental health problems. It indicates that those who suffer the most are those who are most vulnerable.

Given the urgent need to empower and support young people, help them create meaningful and radical changes, facilitate knowledge exchange, and deepen understanding and appreciation of climate science and climate change, the Climate Change Commission and the Oscar M. Lopez Center invite young Filipinos to attend and participate in the Kaalamang Klima: Climate Change Webinar-Workshop for the Youth on Wednesday, September 22nd, at 9 a.m. via Zoom and Facebook live.

Topics include 'The Basics of Climate Change: The Physical Science,' 'The Basics of Climate Change: Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Society,' and 'The Basics of Climate Action: Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience.'

Invited speakers include Dr. Rodel Lasco, executive director of Oscar M. Lopez Center; Dr. Emma Porio, project leader and principal investigator of the Coastal Cities at Risk: Investing in Climate and Disaster Resilience at the Ateneo de Manila University; and Dr. Noralene Uy, experts pool member of the National Resilience Council and researcher of the International Recovery Platform Secretariat.

Testimonials will be delivered by Lea Guerrero, country director of Greenpeace Philippines; Julio Galvez Tan, executive director of Center for Empowerment and Resource Development Inc.; and Joann Binondo, Project Manager of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines.

The author is the executive director of the Young Environmental Forum and a non-resident fellow of Stratbase ADR Institute. He completed his climate change and development course at the University of East Anglia and an executive program on sustainability leadership at Yale University. You can email him at