Havering young people speak up for climate challenge

Published: Wednesday, 15 December 2021

A survey by Havering Council of young people in the borough has found that almost two thirds of those asked are concerned about global warming. 

Young people say they have already been doing their bit to tackle climate change and that both they and their communities can still do much more.

The survey was run as part of the Havering Youth Climate Change Summit which coincided with the UN Youth Climate Summit in Milan in September and ended shortly after the recent COP26 in Glasgow.

Two hundred and sixty two young people between the ages of 11 and 25 took part in the survey, which provides a snapshot of how they see the impact of climate change on our environment and the part they could play to help improve everyone’s quality of life.

Global warming is a concern for 63 per cent of the survey respondents, while 61 per cent said they are concerned about air and water pollution.

Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council, said:

“Hearing from young people is crucial as it helps us to understand what is important to them. The work we are doing now to become carbon neutral by 2040 will impact generations to come. And as the generation of the future, they have a massive role to play in helping to shape what’s ahead.

“We will therefore be taking their comments on board, and continue to talk to them as we work together to achieve our ambitions and make the future a better place for all.”

Four out of five young people who said they are concerned about air and water pollution said this has influenced their decision to take public transport to school rather than travelling in the car.  

Fifty six per cent of survey respondents said the loss of ecosystems and wildlife habitats was worrying for them.

Most young people – 89 per cent - said they were already recycling glass and plastics; while 54 per cent said they sometimes avoided single use plastics, and more than a third (35 per cent) said they wished they could do this more.

One young person said:

“I wish there were more separate recycling bins around school areas for paper and plastics.”

Another said:

“There should be a larger push on schools to be eco-friendly. My school doesn’t have any accessible recycling bins (the only recycling bin I've seen is the massive ones with wheels and those are at the back of our canteen). We could be doing so many more renewable things and I’m sure schools all across the nation could be as well.”

The survey also showed:

  • three quarters of young people (74 per cent) have upcycled or exchanged clothing and digital goods
  • nearly half had never taken part in a litter pick or clean up, but a third said they would be interested in doing one
  • nearly a third (32 per cent) never choose a meat-free alternative at mealtimes.

The most popular suggestion of what young people wanted to see in the future was an improvement in handling waste and recycling. 

A quarter of those who provided a suggestion (23 per cent) asked for improved recycling in the borough.

But not all young people were concerned about climate change, with 4 per cent questioning the science behind it.

The young people said their most trusted source of information came from the TV news, followed by school and college. A small number (6 per cent) believed that young people could not trust any sources of information.