Some 74% of youth thought climate change had an impact on their daily lives and 67% believed that the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi’s (EAD) youth programmes has helped raise awareness of the issue.
40% of the respondents ranked land and marine pollution as their top priority, while 26% stated that water shortage as their top concern. Approximately 88% of respondents said that they had reduced their use of single-use plastic bags during the last six months.
These are the results of EAD’s Youth Survey on Climate Change conducted during Q4 2022 and released at the ongoing Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The survey had a total of 4,210 respondents, including employees and students, aged 15–29, and residing in various emirates, 65% of whom were females and 71% are based in Abu Dhabi.
EAD’s Youth Survey on Climate Change captured the voices of young people on the most critical environmental issues and the effects of climate change;
The survey also evaluated youths’ awareness and engagement on key environmental issues, identified their views on environmental preservation techniques and sustainability concepts, and assessed their level of ecological awareness.
The survey also measured the extent to which youths' behaviour had changed as a result of the newly implemented single-use plastic bags policy and explored youths’ viewpoints on environmental priorities and perceived solutions to climate change.
The survey was accessible on EAD’s various digital and social media platforms to ensure that it reaches the largest number of youth, including the Sustainable Schools Initiative Network, of 153 schools, and the Sustainable Campus Initiative that includes 24 universities with more than 500 000 students, in addition to EAD’s network of stakeholders and its programmatic partners.
Youth main focus
Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Climate Pioneer for Youth at COP28 said: “Youth have always been a main focus in the national strategies of the UAE in all fields, therefore they play an important role in bringing about tangible development through their direct support.
“They are a major player in national and international programmes and initiatives to confront climate change and its effects on their daily lives, and are important for initiating change in their environmental behaviour with regards to sustainability. Moreso in order to support the efforts of the UAE and the world to reach zero carbon emissions and other national programmes that will help adopt environmental practices to mitigate climate change.”
She pointed out that it is necessary for all youth bodies and institutions in the UAE to work on adopting initiatives aimed at raising youth awareness and enhancing their knowledge of the risks resulting from climate change, and the importance of concerted efforts to confront environmental challenges.
She added that the results of the Climate Change Survey confirms the importance of this category in drawing up future environmental policies within the framework of finding practical and sustainable solutions to the issue of climate change.
Al Mazrouei added: “The UAE's investment in youth to enhance its efforts and support its strategic plans on climate change issues will give it double impetus to find direct practical solutions that will reduce environmental concerns and challenges in the short term. As 74% of the youth participating in the survey considered that climate change affects their lives. It will inevitably lead to the acceleration of work on strategies that rely on them to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
She said: “The results of the survey will encourage youth bodies and institutions in the UAE to work alongside decision-makers at the COP28, which the UAE is hosting this year which is important for achieving environmental sustainability and reducing the effects of climate change that threatens the future of the planet.”
Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD said: “We were pleased to see a wide response from young people and their eagerness to participate in the survey. Youth are an influential group in the global environmental movements and their voices matter to us as a regulator. It is clear that our youth are concerned and actively engaged in environmental issues and tend to suggest solutions. Announcing the results of this survey during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week puts them on a high visibility platform and we look forward to sharing the survey findings with the leadership of the UAE and our stakeholders.”
She added: "We will incorporate all survey findings in our programmes and initiatives, especially since about 67% of the youth who participated in the survey stated that our programmes help spread awareness among young people about climate change. 53% of the respondents expressed their hopes that COP28 will accelerate work on strategies to mitigate climate change, so we look forward to playing an active role in amplifying their voices ahead of and during COP28.”
Climate change is a top priority
When asked to rank the top three environmental challenges (out of a list of 10), almost 48% of respondents stated that climate change is their top environmental concern. Following this 47% named air pollution and traffic congestion, 40% said that land and marine pollution is the most important issue, 26% named water shortage as their biggest concern, while the issue of floods and torrents came in the last place with 10%.
Other results from the survey revealed that 88% of youths expressed concern about the extreme rise in temperatures in the UAE during the summer, and 45% were very concerned about global warming and its consequences. 25% indicated their concern about climate change compared to 20% who were optimistic about resolving this issue.
Causes of Climate Change
According to the surveyed youths, the use of carbon-intensive transportation is the biggest cause of climate change and associated long-term changes in temperature and weather patterns (74%), followed by manufacturing and industry (68%), and lastly deforestation (61%). When asked about what directly contributes to habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, 65% of respondents named human activities, followed by pollution with 20%.
Single-use plastic bags ban
The survey included several questions on single-use plastic products consumption to examine the effectiveness of EAD’s policy on single-use plastic that was launched in 2020, to promote sustainable living among all residents of Abu Dhabi.
Approximately 80% of the respondents said that single-use plastic has a negative impact on human health. More than 47% indicated that the environment is the most affected by single-use plastic pollution, followed by animals (37 %), humans ranked third with more than 12%.
With regards to consumption of single-use plastic bags, 88% of participants confirmed that they have reduced their consumption of these bags in the last six months, in a clear indication of the effectiveness of the of ban on single-use plastic products, which was implemented in Abu Dhabi from June 1, 2022.-- TradeArabia News Service