Children and young people’s perceptions of climate change

What do children think about climate change?


North West Climate Change Champion, 14-year-old Jessica Smith from Southport, is shown around Moston Vale by Adam Davison of the Forestry Commission. Copyright : Barbara Philips, COI

Adapting to and communicating the issues surrounding climate change are key aspects of the Forestry Commission England strategy. Forest Research surveyed the attitudes of children and young people to this global phenomenon and investigated their ideas about the role of trees, woods and forests in climate change and mitigation.

Key findings

  • High awareness: children and young people had higher awareness than parents, teachers or governors
  • Misconceptions: several misconceptions were common among children and few realised the contribution of forestry to climate change, although deforestation was perceived to be an environmental problem
  • Concern: children and young people were concerned about climate change and typically said action is needed urgently
  • Influences: the media and certain educational experiences appeared to have had an effect on some children and young people’s perceptions
  • Education: teachers and governors said that little time was devoted to teaching about climate change due to curriculum constraints


Funders and partners

Commissioned and funded by Forestry Commission England.


Completed in 2009.


Liz O'Brien