Climate change is the most important issue facing the world, according to a major new survey of young people, published by Amnesty International this week.

The online poll — conducted by Ipsos MORI — questioned more than 10,000 people aged 18-25-year olds in 22 countries. Respondents were asked to pick up to five issues from a list of 23 major issues facing the world. In total, 41% of respondents said climate change was one of the most important issues facing the world — making it the most commonly cited globally - followed by 36% who chose pollution and 31% who selected terrorism.

Amnesty says the findings are a timely reminder to world leaders meeting in Spain for the UN Climate Change Conference that their ‘failure to address the climate change crisis has left them out of step with young people.’

Speaking at a press conference before a march through the centre of Madrid, global youth leader Great Thunburg, said that although schoolchildren had been striking around the world, this “has not translated into action” from governments.

“There is no victory because the only thing we want to see is real action and real action has not been happening,” she said. “If you look at it from a certain point of view, we have achieved nothing.”

Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International, told delegates at the COP25 summit that young people are living within a “failed system,” and said that with so many young people taking to the streets it should come as “no surprise” that they see climate change as the most important issue facing the world.

“For young people the climate crisis is one of the defining challenges of their age. This is a wake-up call to world leaders that they must take far more decisive action to tackle the climate emergency or risk betraying younger generations further,” Naidoo added.

Negotiations on implementing common time frames for each country’s climate prevention measures have so far failed to reach agreement at COP25. “We have been struggling,” admitted UN head of climate talks, Patricia Espinosa.

The talks end on Friday 13 December.

Last reviewed 12 December 2019