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Survey: Only six percent of young people believe climate change will be controlled

Teens in Finland expect their future options to be limited by the climate crisis.

Nuorten ja koululaisten ilmastomarssi maaliskuussa 2019
Thousands of children and teenagers urged more decisive climate action at the Finnish Parliament on 15 March 2019. Image: Kimmo Brandt / AOP

Youngsters aged 13-16 are braced for the idea that their choices will be restricted due to the climate crisis, according to the Finland 2050 survey published by the Children and Youth Foundation on Friday.

Last spring, more than 4,300 youth of upper comprehensive school age were asked to envision what Finland will look like in 2050 through workshops and an extensive questionnaire. Also taking part in the survey were IT firm Tieto and the Futures School, which also this past spring organised Futures Day in conjunction with Unesco and Turku University's Finland Futures Research Centre.

A majority of those polled consider it likely and desirable that in the future people's choices will be limited in order to rein in climate change. Most said there is no doubt that there will be restrictions on driving cars and eating meat, for instance, as it is clear that lifestyles must be altered in order to slow climate change.

Finland "radically different" by 2050

The young respondents said that this is the most important way to ensure that Finland is still a good place to live in 2050.

Eighty-five percent said they expect Finland to be a radically different place by mid-century.

Two-thirds say they expect climate change to be the biggest driver of that change, while smaller majorities cited technological development and immigration.

Only one in three say they believe they will have the same opportunities as their parents have had, while just six percent expressed faith that humanity will succeed in controlling climate change.

"Dramatic message to decision-makers"

"Young people want intervention in climate change and see it as important, but see a strong contradiction in that adults are not doing enough. I think it's extremely worrying from the standpoint of youth and more broadly in terms of combating climate change," says Futures School director Otto Tähkäpää, an environmental researcher at the University of Helsinki.

"This is an example of where youngsters' climate angst comes from. The problem is huge and existential but they are offered solutions like 'recycle your banana peels'. There's an imbalance," he says.

Responding to the report, Interior Minister and Greens chair Maria Ohisalo said that it sends "a dramatic message to decision-makers".

"Young people's faith in the future, ability to cope and sense of security are being tested. Confidence in security and faith in the future are the most important things to pass on to new generations," she told the online paper Uusi Suomi.

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